The British Journal of Psychiatry presented a study conducted by Yale School of Medicine regarding the tendency to extract a meaningful message from meaningless noise. The study implies that, over time, this ability could produce a 'matrix of unreality' that triggers the initial psychotic phase of schizophrenia-spectrum disorders. The study implies that this ability could be an early sign of schizophrenia.
The study consisted of a measly 43 participants who had already been diagnosed with prodromal symptoms such as social withdrawal, mild perceptual alterations or misinterpretation of social cues.
A medication called olanzapine was used in this study. It is also known as zyprexa, an atypical antipsychotic used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Participants were assessed for up to two years after being randomly assigned to either this medication or a placebo.
The participants listened to a reading of a text through headphones, but this text was read by six different people at the same time. The overlap of the words made comprehension virtually impossible. The only words detected with any kind of consistency were increase, children, A-OK, and Republican.
"Eighty percent of the participants who 'heard' phrases of four or more words in length went on to develop a schizophrenia-related illness during times that they were not taking olanzapine, said the lead author, Ralph Hoffman, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry. In contrast, only six percent of those in the study converted to schizophrenia-related illness if the phrases 'heard' were less than three words in length." – Article
Clearly this is not sufficient research to conclusively report the effectiveness of this type of screening tool, but it’s an interesting attempt. How long could it be until we are using simple white noise to render a diagnosis.
Detect anything meaningful?