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J Neurophysiol. 2006 Feb;95(2):593-601. Epub 2005 Nov 2.

Role of anticipation in schizophrenia-related pursuit initiation deficits.

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  • 1Maryland Psychiatric Research Ctr., PO Box 21247, Baltimore, MD 21228, USA.


Schizophrenia patients exhibit several smooth pursuit abnormalities including poor pursuit initiation. Velocity discrimination is also impaired and is correlated with pursuit initiation performance-suggesting that pursuit deficits are related to impairments in processing velocity information. Studies suggest that pursuit initiation is influenced by prior target motion information and/or expectations and that this is likely caused by expectation-based changes in the perceptual inputs to the pursuit system. We examined whether poor pursuit initiation in schizophrenia results from inaccurate encoding of immediate velocity signals, or whether these deficits reflect a failure to use prior target motion information to "optimize" the response. Twenty-eight patients and 24 controls performed an adapted version of a "remembered pursuit task." Trials consisted of a series of target motions, the first of which occurred unexpectedly, followed by four to seven identical targets each preceded by an auditory cue and a "catch target" in which a cue was given followed by target extinction. Initiation eye velocity in response to unexpected, first targets was similar in the patient and control groups. In contrast, patients showed lower eye velocity in response to repeated, cued targets compared with controls. Patients also showed reduced eye velocity in response to catch targets. Reduction in pursuit latency across repeated targets was less robust in patients. Results suggest that processing of immediate velocity information is unaffected in schizophrenia and that pursuit initiation deficits reflect an inability to accurately generate, store, and/or access "remembered" velocity signals.

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