Target anticipation and impairment of smooth pursuit eye movements in schizophrenia

P. Trillenberg, W. Heide*, K. Junghanns, M. Blankenburg, V. Arolt, D. Kömpf

*Corresponding author for this work
20 Citations (Scopus)


A reduced gain of smooth pursuit eye velocity has frequently been reported in schizophrenic patients. With respect to predictable stimuli, this could be due to a deficit in predicting the target path. To determine this contribution to smooth pursuit eye movement performance, we analyzed the ocular smooth pursuit response to a sinusoidally moving target that was suddenly stopped after some cycles of regular movement. Horizontal eye movements were recorded with infrared reflection oculography in a group of 17 schizophrenic in-patients and 16 age-matched healthy subjects for controls. The patients exhibited a reduced gain of smooth pursuit velocity, but phase lag was not different from the control group. After the unpredictable stop of target movement, predictive sinusoidal smooth pursuit was maintained for 150 to 200 ms in both groups. The resulting maximal position and velocity error was larger in the patient group. In conclusion, schizophrenic patients were able to generate a normal anticipatory component of smooth pursuit and to switch it off in response to external demands. They showed, however, an increased velocity of anticipatory pursuit, which might be used to compensate for the primary deficit of smooth pursuit velocity frequently found in schizophrenics.

Original languageEnglish
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)316-324
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 26.05.1998

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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