Cortical contributions to impaired contour integration in schizophrenia

Steven M. Silverstein, Michael P. Harms, Cameron S. Carter, James M. Gold, Brian P. Keane, Angus MacDonald, J. Daniel Ragland, Deanna M. Barch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objectives: Visual perceptual organization impairments in schizophrenia (SCZ) are well established, but their neurobiological bases are not. The current study used the previously validated Jittered Orientation Visual Integration (JOVI) task, along with fMRI, to examine the neural basis of contour integration (CI), and its impairment in SCZ. CI is an aspect of perceptual organization in which multiple distinct oriented elements are grouped into a single continuous boundary or shape. Methods: On the JOVI, five levels of orientational jitter were added to non-contiguous closed contour elements embedded in background noise to progressively increase the difficulty in perceiving contour elements as left- or right-pointing ovals. Multi-site fMRI data were analyzed for 56 healthy control subjects and 47 people with SCZ. Results: SCZ patients demonstrated poorer CI, and this was associated with increased activation in regions involved in global shape processing and visual attention, namely the lateral occipital complex and superior parietal lobules. There were no brain regions where controls demonstrated more activation than patients. Conclusions: CI impairment in this sample of outpatients with SCZ was related to excessive activation in regions associated with object processing and allocation of visual-spatial attention. There was no evidence for basic impairments in contour element linking in the fMRI data. The latter may be limited to poor outcome patients, where more extensive structural and functional changes in the occipital lobe have been observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)469-480
Number of pages12
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the staff at each of the CNTRACs sites for their hard work, and our participants for their time, energy and cooperation. This research was supported by NIH Grants: 5R01MH084840-03 (DMB), 5R01MH084826-03 (CSC), 5R01MH084828-03 (SMS), 5R01MH084821-03 (JMG), 5R01MH084861-03 (AWM) and 5R01MH059352 (APY). Appendix A

Funding Information:
Dr. Barch has received grants from the NIMH, NIA, NARSAD, Allon, Novartis, and the McDonnell Center for Systems Neuroscience. Dr. Carter has received research grants from the NIMH, NIDA, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and from Glaxo Smith Kline and has been an external consultant for Roche, Servier, Lilly, Merck and Pfizer. Dr. Gold has received grants from NIMH, receives royalty payments from the BACS, and has consulted with Pfizer, Merck, Astra Zenaca, Solvay, and Glaxo Smith Kline. Dr. Harms has no financial disclosures. Dr. Keane has received grants from NIMH. Dr. MacDonald has received research grants from the NIH and NARSAD. Dr. Ragland has received research grants from the NIH and NARSAD. Dr. Silverstein has received research grants from NIMH, NARSAD, The Stanley Medical Research Institute, The New England Research Institutes, the van Ameringen Foundation, The Jacob and Valeria Langaloth Foundation, The New York State Office of Mental Health, the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Janssen, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Contour integration
  • FMRI
  • Lateral occipital complex
  • Perception
  • Perceptual organization
  • Schizophrenia
  • Vision


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