Improvement of exploratory eye movements in schizophrenic patients during recovery period


address: Kiichiro Morita, md, phd, Department of Neuropsychiatry, Kurume University School of Medicine, 67 Asahi-machi, Kurume City, Fukuoka 830, Japan.


Abstract In the present paper exploratory eye movements were examined as biologic markers in both acute schizophrenic patients (acute patients discharged after approximately 3 months and treated as outpatients, n = 8; acute patients who were still in hospital after 6 months, n = 8) and chronic schizophrenic patients (hospital stay >5 years, n = 15) in comparison with age-matched healthy subjects (n = 30). Using an eye-mark recorder, exploratory eye movements were analyzed for mean gazing time (MGT), and total eye scanning length (TESL) as subjects viewed six simple pictures in preparation for copying them. In acute schizophrenic patients discharged after 6 months (DP), MGT became significantly shorter and TESL became longer after 3 or 6 months treatment. In acute schizophrenic patients during admission after 6 months, TESL became longer after 3 or 6 months of treatment. However, no significant changes were observed in chronic patients in these measures. In schizophrenic patients, negative symptom scores were positively correlated with MGT (r = 0.43; P < 0.001), and negatively correlated with TESL (r = −45; P < 0.001). These findings suggest that exploratory eye movements are a biologic state and trait marker useful for evaluation of schizophrenia.