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Biol Psychiatry. 2011 Jan 1;69(1):55-62. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2010.08.016. Epub 2010 Oct 23.

Response inhibition and response monitoring in a saccadic countermanding task in schizophrenia.

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Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA.



Cognitive control deficits are pervasive in individuals with schizophrenia (SZ) and are reliable predictors of functional outcome, but the specificity of these deficits and their underlying neural mechanisms have not been fully elucidated. The objective of the present study was to determine the nature of response inhibition and response monitoring deficits in SZ and their relationship to symptoms and social and occupational functioning with a behavioral paradigm that provides a translational approach to investigating cognitive control.


Seventeen patients with SZ and 16 demographically matched healthy control subjects participated in a saccadic countermanding task. Performance on this task is approximated as a race between movement generation and inhibition processes; this race model provides an estimate of the time needed to cancel a planned movement. Response monitoring can be assessed by reaction time adjustments on the basis of trial history.


Saccadic reaction time was normal, but patients required more time to inhibit a planned saccade. The latency of the inhibitory process was associated with the severity of negative symptoms and poorer occupational functioning. Both groups slowed down significantly after correctly cancelled and erroneously noncancelled stop signal trials, but patients slowed down more than control subjects after correctly inhibited saccades.


These results suggest that SZ is associated with a difficulty in inhibiting planned movements and an inflated response adjustment effect after inhibiting a saccade. Furthermore, behavioral results are consistent with potential abnormalities in frontal and supplementary eye fields in patients with SZ.

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