Introduction: Deficits in visual perception are well-established in schizophrenia and are linked to abnormal activity in the lateral occipital complex (LOC). Related deficits may exist in bipolar disorder. LOC contains neurons tuned to object features. It is unknown whether neural tuning in LOC or other visual areas is abnormal in patients, contributing to abnormal perception during visual tasks. This study used multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA) to investigate perceptual tuning for objects in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Methods: Fifty schizophrenia participants, 51 bipolar disorder participants, and 47 matched healthy controls completed five functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) runs of a perceptual task in which they viewed pictures of four different objects and an outdoor scene. We performed classification analyses designed to assess the distinctiveness of activity corresponding to perception of each stimulus in LOC (a functionally localized region of interest). We also performed similar classification analyses throughout the brain using a searchlight technique. We compared classification accuracy and patterns of classification errors across groups.
Results: Stimulus classification accuracy was significantly above chance in all groups in LOC and throughout visual cortex. Classification errors were mostly within-category confusions (e.g., misclassifying one chair as another chair). There were no group differences in classification accuracy or patterns of confusion.
Conclusions: The results show for the first time MVPA can be used successfully to classify individual perceptual stimuli in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. However, the results do not provide evidence of abnormal neural tuning in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Keywords: Bipolar disorder; Multivariate pattern analysis; Schizophrenia; Visual perception; fMRI.