Background: Within the field of genetic schizophrenia research, eye-tracking dysfunction can be regarded as a putative trait marker in families with multiple occurrences of the disease (familial schizophrenia). We concentrated on families with single occurrences of schizophrenia (sporadic schizophrenia) to test whether a genetic factor may be present in these families as well. Methods: Eye movements were recorded using infrared oculography in eight families with sporadic schizophrenia (44 members), eight families with familial schizophrenia (66 members), and nine nonpsychotic families (77 members). Triangle-wave stimuli at 15°/sec and 30°/sec were used, and gains (eye velocity/target velocity), rates, and amplitudes of saccades (classified as catch-up and anticipatory saccades) were determined. Results: 1) In sporadic-schizophrenia families, gain values, saccade rates, and anticipatory saccade amplitudes at 30°/sec differed in a statistically significant fashion from nonpsychotic families, but not from families with multiple occurrences of schizophrenia, and 2) at 30°/sec, a significant effect of target direction on smooth-pursuit maintenance was observed in both sporadic- and familial-schizophrenia families. Conclusions: Our results support the hypothesis that genetic factors may be present even in sporadic-schizophrenia families and may contribute to a more precise and biologically based definition of the schizophrenia phenotype in future molecular genetic analysis. Copyright (C) 2000 Society of Biological Psychiatry.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)