Memory-guided saccade abnormalities in schizophrenic patients and their healthy, full biological siblings

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Ocular-motor inhibition errors and saccadic hypometria occur at elevated rates in biological relatives of schizophrenic patients. The memory-guided saccade (MS) paradigm requires a subject to inhibit reflexive saccades (RSs) and to programme a delayed saccade towards a remembered target.


MS, RS, and central fixation (CF) tasks were administered to 16 patients who met the criteria for DSM-IV schizophrenia, 19 of their psychiatrically healthy siblings, and 18 controls.


Patients and siblings showed elevated MS error rates reflecting a failure to inhibit RSs to a visible target, as required by the task. In contrast to controls, prior errors did not improve MS accuracy in patients and siblings.


The specific characteristics of the elevated MS error rate help to clarify the nature of the disinhibition impairment found in schizophrenics and their healthy siblings. Failure to inhibit premature saccades and to improve the accuracy of subsequent volitional saccades implicates a deficit in spatial working-memory integration, mental representation and/or motor learning processes in schizophrenia.

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