Smooth pursuit eye movements to extra-retinal motion signals: deficits in patients with schizophrenia

Psychiatry Res. 1999 Nov 29;88(3):209-19. doi: 10.1016/s0165-1781(99)00084-0.


In order to understand mechanisms underlying the smooth pursuit abnormality(ies) in schizophrenia, new methods, which independently evaluated predictive smooth pursuit responses to extra-retinal motion signals, were developed and tested. The study compared responses to only extra-retinal motion signals in normal volunteers (n = 25), and individuals with a chronic (n = 21) and a recent onset (n = 18) schizophrenia. Subject groups with chronic schizophrenia and recent onset schizophrenia had significantly poorer predictive pursuit than normal subjects in response to only extra-retinal motion signals. The poor predictive pursuit was evident even at low target velocity when the closed-loop pursuit gain was normal in patients with schizophrenia. Ten of the 18 recent onset patients were drug-free at the time of testing and had no or minimum previous exposure to anti-psychotic medications. Re-analyses of the data showed that on most measures of predictive pursuit, drug-free patients were not significantly different from patients who received anti-psychotic drug treatment. Both patient groups had significantly poorer predictive pursuit than normal subjects. These results suggest that a deficit in processing extra-retinal motion may underlie the abnormal smooth pursuit response in schizophrenia. At low target velocities, patients with schizophrenia were able to compensate for the low extra-retinal gain by increasing the gain of response to the retinal slip velocity. This indicates that patients were able to process retinal slip velocity and generate smooth pursuit eye movements, but experienced a specific deficit in processing and/or integrating extra-retinal motion information for the smooth pursuit response.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Perceptual Masking
  • Pursuit, Smooth*
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*