Neuroimaging Studies of Neurophysiological Phenotypes in Schizophrenia

2014-08-27 03:17:07 | BioPortfolio



- Eye tracking, the ability to focus on and follow a moving target with the eyes, is often difficult for people who have schizophrenia. Research has shown that first-degree relatives of people with schizophrenia, such as parents and siblings, also tend to have difficulty with smooth eye movement and eye tracking. Researchers are interested in using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study brain activity during eye tracking tests in order to better understand the effect that schizophrenia has on brain function.


- To study eye-tracking and eye-tracking impairments in people with and without schizophrenia.


- Individuals between 18 and 62 years of age in one of three groups: (1) patients who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder, (2) first-degree relatives of patients in group 1, and (3) healthy volunteers with no family history of psychosis.


- The study will involve two visits, one screening session and one testing session. Each session will take about 3 hours.

- Participants will be asked to avoid consuming alcohol and restrict consumption of caffeine before the start of the study. Participants will provide urine and breath samples to be tested for chemicals that may interfere with the study.

- Participants will visit the clinical center the morning of the day before the scanning session to provide blood and urine samples as required. Participants will return and be admitted for an overnight stay later that afternoon or evening.

- During the screening session, participants will provide a medical and psychological history, provide blood samples, and learn the eye movement tasks they will do during the scanning session.

- During the scanning session, participants will have an fMRI scan. During the scan, they will perform eye movement tasks that involve following moving light targets on a screen, and will also perform other tasks that test the ability to think and pay attention.



The proposed protocol aims to combine functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and SPEM eyetracking measures to study 1) the neural circuit controlling the psychophysical, cognitive, and oculomotor aspects of eyetracking; 2) the underlying neural mechanism of schizophrenia-related eyetracking impairments; and 3) the degree to which pursuit-related imaging changes aggregate in families. The human eye movement system is complex. It is likely that only components of the system, rather than the whole system, are involved in the pathology of schizophrenia.

Study Population:

Three groups of subjects will be tested: schizophrenic patients (approximately n=60), full siblings of patients (approximately n=45), and healthy controls without family history of psychosis (approximately n=40), for a total target enrollment of about 145 subjects.


Experiments in this protocol employ fMRI in combination with psychophysical and oculomotor paradigms to dissect the neural correlates of the neurophysiological components controlling pursuit eye movement. A high-resolution in-magnet eyetracking system will be used during imaging. Using this imaging technology we will be able to associate behavioral performance with specific brain regions.

Outcome Measures:

Combining fMRI and visual neuroscience techniques, this protocol will study the functional neuroanatomic underpinnings of smooth pursuit eye movement (SPEM) deficits in schizophrenia. We aim to establish a pathophysiological model of the illness based on the SPEM paradigm. Such a disease model may provide safe in vivo examination of the effects of pharmacological interventions, comorbidity, and functionality relating to schizophrenia. For example, patients with schizophrenia have high comorbidity of nicotine use. High incidence of substance abuse in schizophrenia suggests that the two conditions may share some common pathophysiology. Excessive nicotine use in schizophrenia is increasingly viewed as a form of self-medication by patients to correct underlying pathophysiological changes caused by the illness. We have found that nicotine can transiently improve smooth pursuit eye movement deficits in patients. We are currently examining the nicotinic effect on the learning components of smooth pursuit eye movement in schizophrenic patients using fMRI. This is an example on how carefully validated behavioral/imaging paradigm can be used as a pathophysiological model in aiding the study of complex brain illness including schizophrenia and substance abuse. Clearly, this research direction also requires a parallel research effort that aims at in-depth understanding of the foundational neural mechanism of the smooth pursuit eye movement itself.

Study Design





National Institute on Drug Abuse, Biomedical Research Center (BRC)
United States




National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-08-27T03:17:07-0400

Clinical Trials [1022 Associated Clinical Trials listed on BioPortfolio]

Validation of a Clinical Screening Grid for Syndromic Schizophrenia

Background: Nowadays, despite a large number of studies about schizophrenia and genetics, clinical red flags for syndromic forms of schizophrenia remain poorly documented.

Molecular Genetics of Schizophrenia

This study will create a DNA collection with blood samples from families with at least two siblings who have schizophrenia symptoms. This collection will help scientists identify genes tha...

Genetic Research in Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia has long been known to be an illness with significant evidence for a genetic predisposition. The purpose of this study is to determine the genetic abnormalities that cause c...

Study on Examination of Therapeutic Efficacy and Potential Mechanisms of Yoga Treatment in Schizophrenia

Despite the preliminary evidence, yoga as a treatment for schizophrenia is under-examined.Studies in healthy individuals indicate yoga practices to improveself-reflection. However, whether...

Treatment of Refractory Schizophrenia With Riluzole

The proposed study would evaluate the benefits of riluzole add-on treatment to patients with schizophrenia who are already receiving medications, but still experience symptoms. Neuroprotec...

PubMed Articles [887 Associated PubMed Articles listed on BioPortfolio]

Impaired neuropsychological profile in homicide offenders with schizophrenia.

Our ability to predict and prevent homicides committed by individuals with schizophrenia is limited. Cognitive impairments are associated with poorer functional outcome in schizophrenia, possibly also...

Simulated car driving and its association with cognitive abilities in patients with schizophrenia.

Patients with schizophrenia commonly suffer from impairments in various aspects of cognition. These deficits were shown to have detrimental effects on daily life functioning and might also impair car ...

Association on DISC1 SNPs with schizophrenia risk: A meta-analysis.

Schizophrenia is a major psychiatric disorder with complex genetic, environmental, and psychological etiologies. Although DISC1 gene has been shown as a risk factor for schizophrenia in some reports, ...

Mutation analysis of the WNT7A gene in patients with schizophrenia.

Aberrant WNT signaling has been implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. WNT7A, a member of the WNT gene family, is considered a potential candidate of schizophrenia. All exons of WNT7A in ...

Service utilization and suicide among people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders.

To compare individuals with and without schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD) (schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or psychotic disorder not otherwise specified) who die by suicide.

Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

A chronic form of schizophrenia characterized primarily by the presence of persecutory or grandiose delusions, often associated with hallucination.

A type of schizophrenia characterized by abnormality of motor behavior which may involve particular forms of stupor, rigidity, excitement or inappropriate posture.

An obsolete concept, historically used for childhood mental disorders thought to be a form of schizophrenia.

A type of schizophrenia characterized by frequent incoherence; marked loosening of associations, or grossly disorganized behavior and flat or grossly inappropriate affect that does not meet the criteria for the catatonic type; associated features include extreme social withdrawal, grimacing, mannerisms, mirror gazing, inappropriate giggling, and other odd behavior. (Dorland, 27th ed)

An antipsychotic agent used in schizophrenia.

More From BioPortfolio on "Neuroimaging Studies of Neurophysiological Phenotypes in Schizophrenia"

Quick Search


Relevant Topics

Ophthalmology is the branch of medicine that is devoted to the study and treatment of eye diseases. As well as mild visual defects correctable by lenses, ophthalmology is concerned with glaucoma, uveitis and other serious conditions affecting the eye, ...

Psychiatry is the study of mental disorders and their diagnosis, management and prevention.  Conditions include schizophrenia, severe depression and panic disorders among others. There are pharmaceutical treatments as well as other therapies to help...

Schizophrenia is a common  serious long-term mental health condition that affects 5 in 1000 in the UK. It causes a range of different psychological symptoms; hallucinations, delusions, muddled thoughts based on the hallucinations or delusions and ch...

Searches Linking to this Trial