Impairment of exploratory eye movement in schizophrenia patients and their siblings



Aims:  Previous family, adoption and twin studies of schizophrenia have shown that genetic factors contribute significantly to the risk of schizophrenia. The aim of the present study was therefore to investigate whether exploratory eye movement (EEM) abnormalities are related to the genetic markers linked to schizophrenia.

Methods:  Twenty-three probands with schizophrenia, 23 of their healthy siblings (23 proband–sibling pairs), and 43 unrelated normal controls performed EEM tasks. Two parameters were measured: (i) number of eye fixations in responsive search (NEFRS) and (ii) responsive search score (RSS).

Results:  Abnormalities in NEFRS and RSS were more frequent in schizophrenia probands than in their unaffected siblings and in normal controls, and were also more frequent in the healthy siblings than in normal controls. Thus, the EEM test performances of the healthy siblings were intermediate between those of the probands with schizophrenia and those of normal controls.

Conclusion:  Abnormalities of the EEM test parameters may be related to the genetic etiology of schizophrenia. The use of EEM parameters as an endophenotype for schizophrenia may facilitate linkage and association studies in schizophrenia.