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Schizophr Res. 2002 Jan 1;53(1-2):101-8.

Reduced binocular depth inversion in schizophrenic patients.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Medical School Hannover, D-30623 Hannover, Germany.


Binocular depth inversion represents an illusion of visual perception, serving to invert the perception of implausible hollow objects, e.g. a hollow face into a normal face. Such inversion occurs frequently, especially when objects with a high degree of familiarity (e.g. photographs of faces) are displayed. Under normal conditions, cognitive factors apparently override the binocular disparity cues of stereopsis. This internal mechanism--a kind of "censorship" of perception balancing "top-down" and "bottom-up" processes of perception--appears to be disturbed in psychotic states. The clinical and neuropsychological performance of schizophrenic patients was assessed using the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), the Positive And Negative Symptoms Scale (PANSS), the Clinical Global Impression Scale (CGI), the Mehrfach-Wahlwortschatz Intelligence Test (MWT-B) and the binocular depth inversion test (BDIT) using pictures with a high degree of familiarity. In schizophrenic patients, the performance in the BDIT differed significantly from healthy controls and from patients with major depression. The schizophrenic patients were more veridical in their judgements in the BDIT. During antipsychotic treatment, BPRS and PANSS scores improved and the inversed faces were seen as more illusionary, driven by an increase in top-down processing. At the end of treatment, there was no significant difference between the patient group and the healthy controls in the score of binocular depth inversion. These findings suggest that testing of binocular depth inversion can detect specific dysfunctions in visual perception and might be useful as a state-marker for psychotic states.

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