Visual Processing Abnormal in Schizophrenia

By Helwick, Caroline | Clinical Psychiatry News, November 2010 | Go to article overview

Visual Processing Abnormal in Schizophrenia


Helwick, Caroline, Clinical Psychiatry News


AMSTERDAM -- Visual processing abnormalities can be observed not only in schizophrenia but in persons at risk for psychosis, according to a study by investigators in the United Kingdom presented at the congress. "We wanted to clarify the importance of early visual deficits for the formation of cognitive deficits in the schizophrenia spectrum," said Ivan Koychev, a doctoral candidate at the University of Manchester, Neuroscience and Psychiatry Unit.

"Our study confirmed that visual deficits are not due to the overt clinical phenotype, but are rather characteristic of the schizophrenia spectrum."

Mr. Koychev and his colleagues carried out an event-related potential (ERP) study using a working memory task on volunteers exhibiting high and low levels of schizophrenia-like personality traits. The hypothesis was that the high schizotypes would have early visual deficits (P1 component reduction) and working memory similar to that observed in persons with schizophrenia and their first-degree relatives. They also hypothesized that the working memory deficits would be more pronounced on tasks that allow only short stimulus presentation, but would be more difficult to demonstrate in tasks that allow ample time for stimulus processing.

Participants completed a visual delayed discrimination task where they were shown stimuli briefly (400 ms), which they compared to target cues presented after a 6-second delay.

Researchers also recorded their performance on several tests of cognition.

The high schizotypal and low schizotypal (control) subjects did not differ in their reaction times to the task, which increased significantly with the working memory load (P less than .001). However, the performance on the task was significantly worse in the high schizotypes, as they identified correctly a lower number of target cues (P = . …

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