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Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2001 Mar;103(3):171-80.

Visual binding abilities in the initial and advanced stages of schizophrenia.

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  • 1Copenhagen University Department of Psychiatry, Hvidovre Hospital, Denmark.



The study tests the hypothesis that intramodal visual binding is disturbed in schizophrenia and should be detectable in all illness stages as a stable trait marker.


Three groups of patients (rehospitalized chronic schizophrenic, first admitted schizophrenic and schizotypal patients believed to be suffering from a pre-schizophrenic prodrome) and a group of normal control subjects were tested on three tasks targeting visual 'binding' abilities (Muller-Lyer's illusion and two figure detection tasks) in addition to control parameters such as reaction time, visual selective attention, Raven's test and two conventional cortical tasks of spatial working memory (SWM) and a global local test.


Chronic patients had a decreased performance on the binding tests. Unexpectedly, the prodromal group exhibited an enhanced Gestalt extraction on these tests compared both to schizophrenic patients and to healthy subjects. Furthermore, chronic schizophrenia was associated with a poor performance on cortical tests of SWM, global local and on Raven. This association appears to be mediated by or linked to the chronicity of the illness.


The study confirms a variety of neurocognitive deficits in schizophrenia which, however, in this sample seem to be linked to chronicity of illness. However, certain aspects of visual processing concerned with Gestalt extraction deserve attention as potential vulnerability- or prodrome- indicators. The initial hypothesis of the study is rejected.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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