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Cognitive functioning is based on binding processes, by which different features and elements of neurocognition are integrated and coordinated. Binding is an essential ingredient of, for instance, Gestalt perception. We have implemented a paradigm of causality perception based on the work of Albert Michotte, in which 2 identical discs move from opposite sides of a monitor, steadily toward, and then past one another. Their coincidence generates an ambiguous percept of either "streaming" or "bouncing," which the subjects (34 schizophrenia spectrum patients and 34 controls with mean age 27.9 y) were instructed to report. The latter perception is a marker of the binding processes underlying perceived causality (type I binding). In addition to this visual task, acoustic stimuli were presented at different times during the task (150 ms before and after visual coincidence), which can modulate perceived causality. This modulation by intersensory and temporally delayed stimuli is viewed as a different type of binding (type II). We show here, using a mixed-effects hierarchical analysis, that type II binding distinguishes schizophrenia spectrum patients from healthy controls, whereas type I binding does not. Type I binding may even be excessive in some patients, especially those with positive symptoms; Type II binding, however, was generally attenuated in patients. The present findings point to ways in which the disconnection (or Gestalt) hypothesis of schizophrenia can be refined, suggesting more specific markers of neurocognitive functioning and potential targets of treatment.
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This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Schizophrenia bulletin
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