Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 2013 Jul;39(4):839-47.
doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbs041. Epub 2012 Mar 23.

Fragile Early Visual Percepts Mark Genetic Liability Specific to Schizophrenia

Affiliations
Free PMC article

Fragile Early Visual Percepts Mark Genetic Liability Specific to Schizophrenia

Scott R Sponheim et al. Schizophr Bull. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Disruption of visual percepts by a subsequent stimulus (ie, backward masking) has been consistently noted in schizophrenia, with some evidence that this fragility in early perception is present in people with genetic liability for the disorder. Given the potential of backward masking paradigms to mark neural processes that confer risk for schizophrenia, it is important to test the diagnostic specificity of abnormalities in visual perception. To more fully assess whether masking visual stimuli reveals a marker of genetic liability (ie, endophenotype) specific to schizophrenia, we tested 44 people with the disorder, 29 people with bipolar disorder, 56 first-degree biological relatives of people with schizophrenia, 26 first-degree biological relatives of people with bipolar disorder, and 43 nonpsychiatric control participants using a magnocellular-biased visual backward masking procedure that included target-to-mask onset asynchronies ranging from 0 to 80 ms. Relatives of people with schizophrenia who were without schizophrenia spectrum disorders exhibited impaired performance compared with nonpsychiatric control participants and relatives of people with bipolar disorder when a visual mask interrupted early perception (eg, 27 ms). A similar vulnerability of early processes was noted in people with schizophrenia, yet they also had impaired performance when masks occurred at later time points (ie, 80 ms). Performance deficits were not attributable to intellectual function, measures of attention and memory, symptomatology, or medication dosage. Bipolar patients and their relatives failed to exhibit deficits on the backward masking task. Fragility of early visual percepts appears to mark genetic liability specific to schizophrenia and may serve as an endophenotype for the disorder.

Keywords: backward masking; bipolar disorder; endophenotype; magno-cellular; unaffected relatives.

Figures

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.
Target location mean accuracy with SEs for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and nonpsychiatric control participants as a function of stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) between target and visual mask. Three-group ANOVA for each SOA: *P < .05. Follow-up paired comparisons with P < .05: a = schizophrenia group lower accuracy than control group and b = schizophrenia group lower accuracy than bipolar disorder group.
Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.
Target location mean accuracy with SEs for first-degree biological relatives of people with schizophrenia, first-degree biological relatives of people with bipolar disorder, and nonpsychiatric control participants as a function of stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) between target and visual mask. Three-group ANOVA for each SOA: *P < .05. Follow-up paired comparisons: a = P < .10 for relatives of schizophrenia with lower accuracy than controls and b = P < .05 for relatives of schizophrenia with lower accuracy than relatives of bipolar disorder. When relatives affected by schizophrenia-spectrum conditions were excluded, the difference between relatives of schizophrenia patients and control participants became significant (P = .034) and the difference between the 2 groups of relatives remained (P = .012).

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 6 articles

See all "Cited by" articles

Publication types

MeSH terms

Feedback