Fingerprint images may have predictor for schizophrenia: study

By Olivia Land

Fingerprint images may have potential as predictors of schizophrenia, a new study has revealed.

The report spearheaded by Spanish researchers used a type of machine learning called a convolutional neural network to find abnormalities in the fingerprints of people known to have schizophrenia that were not present in people without the ailment.

“Our results suggest that fingerprints are valuable sources for diagnosis of non-affective psychosis and that CNNs are a feasible tool to achieve this goal,” said the study, which was by the FIDMAG Germanes Hospitalàries Research Foundation in Barcelona.

Based on algorithms developed using convolutional neural networks, a type of computing system used for analyzing visual images, the researchers reviewed fingerprint samples from 612 patients with non-affective psychosis and 844 healthy individuals.

The right thumb proved to be the strongest predictor, with a 68% accuracy rate.

“Although a maximum accuracy of 70% does not provide enough precision for a faultless diagnosis, fingerprint images may still be valuable, especially if they are combined with other sources of information that have already shown some predictive power in schizophrenia such as genetics and brain imaging data,” the team noted.

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms include hallucinations, delusions and disordered thinking and behavior that impairs everyday function.

The American Psychological Association defines affective psychosis as a mood disorder accompanied by delusions or hallucinations, which is not uncommon in schizoaffective disorders or forms of depression.

Fingerprints as predictors for schizophrenia have been the subject of several studies in recent years. One published in 2011 identified a possible pattern of fluctuating asymmetry and left index ridge counts in schizophrenia patients when compared to healthy individuals.

The “Schizophrenia Bulletin” study also comes shortly after scientists announced the potential genetic underpinning linking schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings.

“That’s what the science is giving us — a clear indication that there are genetic markers and risk factors,” Dr. Ken Duckworth, chief medical officer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, told the Associated Press at the time.

Read more: NYPOST