The reliability and clinical correlates of figure-ground perception in schizophrenia

J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. Summer 2004;16(3):277-83. doi: 10.1176/jnp.16.3.277.


Schizophrenia subjects are impaired in a number of visual attention paradigms. However, their performance on tests of figure-ground visual perception (FGP), which requires subjects to visually discriminate figures embedded in a rival background, is relatively unstudied. We examined FGP in 63 schizophrenia patients and 27 control subjects and found that the patients performed the FGP test reliably and had significantly lower FGP scores than the control subjects. Figure-ground visual perception was significantly correlated with other neuropsychological test scores and was inversely related to negative symptoms. It was unrelated to antipsychotic medication treatment. Figure-ground visual perception depends on "top down" processing of visual stimuli, and thus this data suggests that dysfunction in the higher-level pathways that modulate visual perceptual processes may also be related to a core defect in schizophrenia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence / physiology
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Perceptual Disorders / etiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Visual Perception / physiology*