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Keywords:

  • affective stimuli;
  • emotional sounds;
  • exploratory eye movements;
  • schizophrenia;
  • visual recognition

Aims:  Emotion-associated sounds have been suggested to exert important effects upon human personal relationships. The present study was aimed to characterize the effects of the sounds of crying or laughing on visual cognitive function in schizophrenia patients.

Methods:  We recorded exploratory eye movements in 24 schizophrenia patients (mean age, 27.0 ± 6.1 years; 14 male, 10 female) and age-matched controls. The total eye scanning length (TESL) and total number of gaze points in the left (left TNGP) and right (right TNGP) visual fields of the screen and the number of researching areas (NRA) were determined using eye-mark recording in the presence/absence of emotionally charged sounds.

Results:  Controls' TESL for smiling pictures was longer than that for crying pictures irrespective of sounds. Patients' TESL for smiling pictures, however, was shorter than for crying pictures irrespective of the sounds. The left TNGP for smiling pictures was lower in patients than controls independent of sound. Importantly, the right TNGP was significantly larger with laughing sounds than in the absence of sound. In controls, the NRA for smiling pictures was significantly greater than for crying pictures irrespective of sound. Patient NRA did not significantly differ between smiling and crying pictures irrespective of sound.

Conclusion:  Eye movements in schizophrenia patients' left field for smiling pictures associated with laughing sounds particularly differed from those in controls, suggesting impaired visual cognitive function associated with positive emotion, also involving pleasure-related sounds, in schizophrenia.