Attentional guidance during visual search among patients with schizophrenia

Ava Elahipanah*, Bruce K. Christensen, Eyal M. Reingold

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The current study investigated visual guidance and saccadic selectivity during visual search among patients with schizophrenia (SCZ). Data from a previous study (Elahipanah, A., Christensen, B.K., & Reingold, E.M., 2008. Visual selective attention among persons with schizophrenia: The distractor ratio effect. Schizophr. Res. 105, 61-67.) suggested that visual guidance for the less frequent distractors in a conjunction search display (i.e., the distractor ratio effect) is intact among SCZ patients. The current study investigated the distractor ratio effect among SCZ patients when: 1) search is more demanding, and 2) search involves motion perception. In addition, eye tracking was employed to directly study saccadic selectivity for the different types of distractors. Twenty-eight SCZ patients receiving a single antipsychotic medication and 26 healthy control participants performed two conjunction search tasks: a within-dimension (i.e., colour × colour) search task; and a cross-dimension (i.e., motion × colour) search task. In each task the relative frequency of distractors was manipulated across 5 levels. Despite slower search times, patients' eye movement data indicated unimpaired visual guidance in both tasks. However, in the motion × colour conjunction search task, patients displayed disproportionate difficulty detecting the moving target when the majority of distractors were also moving. Results demonstrate that bottom-up attentional guidance is unimpaired among patients with SCZ; however, patients' impairment in motion discrimination impedes their ability to detect a moving target against noisy backgrounds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-230
Number of pages7
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011
Externally publishedYes


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