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Biol Psychiatry. 2000 Jan 1;47(1):43-50.

Influence of stimulus control on the excitability of the electrically elicited blink reflex in patients with schizophrenia.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Technical University of Aachen, Germany.



In humans, the excitability of the electrically evoked blink reflex is influenced by the subject's attention to the stimulus. The early reflex component R1 has been found to be facilitated in conditions of increased selective attention, whereas the late components R2 and R3 exhibited a marked suppression. Distraction from the stimulus leads to enhanced R2 and R3 magnitudes.


We investigated the excitability of the distinct reflex components in 19 patients with schizophrenia and 19 healthy control subjects. In the control condition (EE), stimulation was elicited by the experimenter; in a second condition (SE), subjects released a key to evoke the reflex themselves.


The SE patients with schizophrenia exhibited an abnormally increased R1 facilitation and an impaired R2 inhibition in comparison with normal control subjects. An R3 component could be registered in EE in 13 of 19 patients but only in one control subject; SE resulted in a complete suppression of this component in all but two patients with schizophrenia.


The abnormal R1 facilitation and the impaired R2 inhibition may be regarded as neurophysiological markers of defective information processing in a condition of increased selective attention to a self-controlled stimulus in patients with schizophrenia. The enhanced excitability of the R3 component under standard conditions indicates defective attentional mechanisms in patients with schizophrenia in an uninstructed passive condition attending a stimulus triggered by the experimenter.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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