Stability of exploratory eye movements as a marker of schizophrenia--a WHO multi-center study. World Health Organization

Schizophr Res. 2001 Dec 1;52(3):203-13. doi: 10.1016/s0920-9964(00)00181-x.


The exploratory eye movements of patients with schizophrenia reportedly differ from those of patients without schizophrenia and healthy controls. In an attempt to determine whether exploratory eye movements provide valid markers for schizophrenia, the present collaborative study was conducted in six countries to analyze the stability of and variation in the following parameters of exploratory eye movements: the number of eye fixations (NEFs) and mean eye scanning length (MESL) in a retention task; the cognitive search score (CSS) that indicates how frequently the eye focused on each important area of a figure in order to recognize it in a comparison task; and the responsive search score (RSS), which reflects the frequency of eye fixations on each section of a figure in response to questioning in a comparison task. In addition, we investigated the validity of the currently employed discriminant function to extract a common feature of schizophrenia by applying it to the findings of the present study. The exploratory eye movements of 145 patients with schizophrenia, 116 depressed patients and 124 healthy controls at seven WHO collaborative centers in six countries were measured using eye mark recorders during viewing of stationary S-shaped figures in two sequential tasks. The RSSs of patients with schizophrenia were found to be significantly lower than those of depressed patients or healthy controls irrespective of geographical location, with no significant difference existing between the RSSs for depressed patients and those for healthy controls. By inserting the RSS and NEF data for each subject into the formula used to calculate discriminant function, patients with schizophrenia could be discriminated from depressed patients and healthy controls with a sensitivity of 89.0% and a specificity of 86.7%. The RSS is an exploratory eye movement parameter that detected schizophrenia irrespective of culture, race and various other subject variables. Furthermore, it is indicative of the stable, significant difference that exists between subjects with and without schizophrenia. The results of discriminant analysis confirm the previously reported validity of discriminant function.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Culture
  • Ethnicity
  • Eye Movements*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis*
  • Schizophrenia / ethnology
  • Schizophrenic Psychology