Active eye fixation performance in 940 young men: effects of IQ, schizotypy, anxiety and depression

Exp Brain Res. 2004 May;156(1):1-10. doi: 10.1007/s00221-003-1759-z. Epub 2003 Dec 19.


A total of 940 young men performed a task in which they actively maintained fixation for 50 s in three conditions: a). on a visual target, b). on a visual target while distracting targets appeared briefly on the periphery and c). with no visual target present. The same individuals completed psychometric evaluation tests measuring IQ, schizotypy and current state-dependent psychopathology. The proportion of fixation time decreased and saccade frequency increased in condition b compared wih condition a, and sequentially in condition c compared with condition b. A trend towards a decrease in proportion of fixation time and increase in saccade frequency was found as the subjects maintained fixation during the task and this time-dependent deterioration of performance was again most pronounced in condition c, less so in condition b and absent in condition a. Psychometric test scores were significantly correlated with fixation performance in the population. Worse performance in all three fixation conditions was observed for individuals with lower IQ scores. A deterioration of fixation performance with time in condition b was correlated with disorganization characteristics of schizotypy, suggesting that these individuals had difficulty maintaining active fixation in the presence of increased inhibitory load. A connection of such a difficulty with the frontal lobes and their role in the control of voluntary inhibitory functions is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / physiopathology*
  • Attention / physiology
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / physiopathology*
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Intelligence / physiology*
  • Intelligence Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics
  • Saccades / physiology
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder / diagnosis
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Time Factors