Larger variability of saccadic reaction times in schizophrenia patients

Psychiatry Res. 2009 Jul 30;168(2):129-36. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2008.04.015. Epub 2009 Jun 5.


Slower mean reaction time (RT), known as psychomotor slowing, is well documented in patients with schizophrenia. Fewer studies have shown increased variability of RT in these patients suggesting a basic difference in the distribution of RT. In this study median RT and its variability were measured for visually guided saccades performed by 53 patients and 1089 control subjects. Then average cumulative RT distributions were derived for each group and the RT distribution for each group was modeled using a decision signal rising linearly to a threshold signaling the beginning of the visually guided saccade. There was a small increase in the median RT for patients while their RTs were much more variable from trial to trial leading to a difference in the average RT distribution of the patient group. The model application led to the conclusion that this difference in the distribution of RT for patients could be attributed to a basic difference in information processing leading to the decision to move the eyes to the visually presented target. This information-processing difference could be the result of a difference in the build-up of neuronal activity involved in the generation of visually guided saccades in the frontal cortex.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology
  • Decision Making / physiology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Saccades / physiology*
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis*
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Signal Detection, Psychological / physiology
  • Visual Fields / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*