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Exp Brain Res. 2007 May;179(3):397-408. Epub 2006 Nov 30.

Smooth pursuit eye movements in 1,087 men: effects of schizotypy, anxiety, and depression.

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University Mental Health Research Institute, Athens, Greece.


Individuals with schizotypal personality disorder or high scores in questionnaires measuring schizotypy are at high risk for the development of schizophrenia and they also share some of the same phenotypic characteristics such as eye-tracking dysfunction (ETD). The question arises whether these individuals form a distinct high-risk group in the general population or whether schizotypy and ETD co-vary in the general population with no distinct cutoff point for a high-risk group. A large sample of military conscripts aged 18-25 were screened using oculomotor, cognitive and psychometric tools for the purposes of a prospective study on predisposing factors for the development of psychosis. Schizotypy measured using the perceptual aberration scale (PAS) and the schizotypal personality questionnaire (SPQ), anxiety and depression, measured using the Symptom Checklist 90-R, had no effect on pursuit performance in the total sample. Small groups of individuals with very high scores in schizotypy questionnaires were then identified. These groups were not mutually exclusive. The high PAS group had higher root-mean-square error scores (a quantitative measure for pursuit quality) than the total sample, and the high disorganized factor of SPQ group had lower gain and higher saccade frequencies in pursuit than the total sample. The presence of significant differences in pursuit performance only for predefined high schizotypy groups favors the hypothesis that individuals with high schizotypy might present one or more high-risk groups, distinct from the general population, that are prone to ETD as that observed in schizophrenia.

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