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Cogn Neuropsychiatry. 2015;20(6):473-81. doi: 10.1080/13546805.2015.1088824. Epub 2015 Oct 14.

I spy with my little eye - the detection of intentional contingency in early psychosis.

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a Department of Educational Neuroscience and LEARN! Research Institute for Learning and Education, Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences , VU University Amsterdam , Van der Boechorststraat 1, Amsterdam 1081 BT , The Netherlands.
b Department of Psychosis Studies , Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London , De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF , UK.



Paranoid delusions have been associated with a tendency to over-attribute intentionality and contingency to others' actions and incidental events in individuals with chronic psychosis. However, this hyper-associative perception bias has not been investigated in the early illness stages of psychosis, during which it may play a particularly crucial role in the formation of symptoms.


We used an experimental paradigm with 20 short film clips of simple animate and inanimate shapes that either moved in a contingent or non-contingent manner to investigate the perception of contingency in 38 adolescents with early psychosis and 93 healthy control adolescents. Participants rated the contingency between the shapes' movements on a scale from 0 to 10. The data were analysed with multilevel regression analyses to account for repeated measures within subjects.


There were no significant differences between patients and controls; both perceived the contingency of the shapes' movements similarly across all conditions and patients' contingency perception was unrelated to their levels of paranoid delusions.


Contingency perception was unimpaired in patients with early psychosis, suggesting that it might still be intact in the early illness stages. Future studies should set out to determine whether the early illness stages could offer a window for interventions that counteract the development of hyper-associative perceptions of contingency.


causality perception; contingency perception; early psychosis; paranoid delusions

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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