OBJECTIVE: The authors' goal was to test the hypothesis that abnormal
smooth pursuit eye movements in schizophrenic patients are associated with
the deficit syndrome. METHOD: The eye movements of 24 normal comparison
subjects, 32 patients with nondeficit schizophrenia, and 11 patients with
deficit schizophrenia were tested with infrared oculography using
foveapetal step-ramp targets. RESULTS: The group of schizophrenic patients
had normal latency to pursuit onset, abnormally decreased open-loop
acceleration and abnormally decreased velocity during the periods of
closed-loop acceleration and steady-state pursuit. The subgroup of
schizophrenic patients with the deficit syndrome had particularly poor
performance during the periods of open- and closed-loop acceleration.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients with schizophrenia have abnormal smooth pursuit eye
movements in response to a step-ramp stimulus, and the defects are
particularly pronounced in patients with the deficit syndrome. Abnormal
smooth pursuit eye movements in schizophrenia and related disorders have
been consistently linked with primary and enduring negative symptoms.