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Impaired top-down modulation of saccadic latencies in patients with schizophrenia but not in first-degree relatives

Schwab, Simon; Jost, Miriam; Altorfer, Andreas (2015). Impaired top-down modulation of saccadic latencies in patients with schizophrenia but not in first-degree relatives. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 9 (44). 10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00044

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mpaired eye movements have a long history in schizophrenia research and meet the criteria of a reliable biomarker. However, the effects of cognitive load and task difficulty on saccadic latencies (SL) are less understood. Recent studies showed that SL are strongly task dependent: SL are decreased in tasks with higher cognitive demand, and increased in tasks with lower cognitive demand. The present study investigates SL modulation in patients with schizophrenia and their first-degree relatives. A group of 13 patients suffering from ICD-10 schizophrenia, 10 first-degree relatives, and 24 control subjects performed two different types of visual tasks: a color task and a Landolt ring orientation task. We used video-based oculography to measure SL. We found that patients exhibited a similar unspecific SL pattern in the two different tasks, whereas controls and relatives exhibited 20–26% shorter average latencies in the orientation task (higher cognitive demand) compared to the color task (lower cognitive demand). Also, classification performance using support vector machines suggests that relatives should be assigned to the healthy controls and not to the patient group. Therefore, visual processing of different content does not modulate SL in patients with schizophrenia, but modulates SL in the relatives and healthy controls. The results reflect a specific oculomotor attentional dysfunction in patients with schizophrenia that is a potential state marker, possibly caused by impaired top-down disinhibition of the superior colliculus by frontal/prefrontal areas such as the frontal eye fields.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

PHBern Contributor:

Schwab, Simon, Jost, Miriam




Jessica Brunner

Date Deposited:

10 Nov 2022 14:56

Last Modified:

06 Mar 2023 14:46

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

schizophrenia, relatives, eye movements, saccades, saccadic latencies, state marker




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