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J Abnorm Psychol. 2013 May;122(2):506-12. doi: 10.1037/a0032110.

Reduced depth inversion illusions in schizophrenia are state-specific and occur for multiple object types and viewing conditions.

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University Behavioral HealthCare, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA.

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Schizophrenia patients are less susceptible to depth inversion illusions (DIIs) in which concave faces appear as convex, but what stimulus attributes generate this effect and how does it vary with clinical state? To address these issues, we had 30 schizophrenia patients and 25 well-matched healthy controls make convexity judgments on physically concave faces and scenes. Patients were selectively sampled from three levels of care to ensure symptom heterogeneity. Half of the concave objects were painted with realistic texture to enhance the convexity illusion; the remaining objects were painted uniform beige to reduce the illusion. Subjects viewed the objects with one eye while laterally moving in front of the stimulus (to see depth via motion parallax) or with two eyes while remaining motionless (to see depth stereoscopically). For each group, DIIs were stronger with texture than without, and weaker with stereoscopic information than without, indicating that patients responded normally to stimulus alterations. More importantly, patients experienced fewer illusions than controls irrespective of the face/scene category, texture, or viewing condition (parallax/stereo). Illusions became less frequent as patients experienced more positive symptoms and required more structured treatment. Taken together, these results indicate that people with schizophrenia experience fewer DIIs with a variety of object types and viewing conditions, perhaps because of a lessened tendency to construe any type of object as convex. Moreover, positive symptoms and the need for structured treatment are associated with more accurate 3-D perception, suggesting that DII may serve as a state marker for the illness.

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