Parsing cognition in schizophrenia using saccadic eye movements: a selective overview

Neuropsychologia. 2001;39(7):742-56. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3932(00)00155-x.


Eye movements provide a behavioural measure of sensorimotor processing and higher cognitive functions of the brain. With the development of novel paradigms that can be used for the study of various cognitive operations, saccadic eye movements in particular, have become increasingly popular. Patients with schizophrenia have neurocognitive impairments that can be readily investigated with these paradigms. From animal, human lesion and neuroimaging studies, the cerebral centres underlying saccadic eye movements have been identified. The areas of the prefrontal cortex include the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the frontal eye fields, the supplementary eye fields, and the anterior cingulate cortex. Pathology of saccadic eye movements, therefore, provides information on the functional status of the underlying neural circuitry in brain disorders such as schizophrenia. In this paper, we evaluate: (i) methodological considerations that are central to the design and application of saccadic paradigms; (ii) brain activation that is associated with saccadic paradigms; (iii) recent findings in healthy subjects and schizophrenic patients; (iv) saccadic abnormalities in other psychiatric and neurological disorders and in individuals at risk for developing schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Risk Factors
  • Saccades*
  • Schizophrenia / complications
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*
  • Visual Perception