Smooth pursuit eye-tracking impairment in childhood-onset psychotic disorders

S. Kumra, A. Sporn, D. W. Hommer, R. Nicolson, G. Thaker, E. Israel, M. Lenane, J. Bedwell, L. K. Jacobsen, P. Gochman, J. L. Rapoport

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Abstract

Objective: Although childhood-onset schizophrenia is relatively rare, a sizable group of children with severe emotional disturbances have transient psychotic symptoms that fall outside of current syndrome boundaries. The relationship of this group of children to those with childhoodonset schizophrenia and other childhood psychiatric disorders is unclear. In this study, the authors compared smooth pursuit eye tracking, a biological trait marker associated with schizophrenia, of children and adolescents with psychotic disorder not otherwise specified to that of children with childhood-onset schizophrenia and healthy comparison subjects. Method: By means of infrared oculography, smooth pursuit eye movements during a 17°/second visual pursuit task were quantitatively and qualitatively compared in 55 young adolescents (29 with childhood-onset schizophrenia and 26 with psychotic disorder not otherwise specified) and their respective independent healthy comparison groups (a total of 38 healthy subjects). Results: Subjects with childhood-onset schizophrenia had qualitatively poorer eye tracking, higher root mean square error, lower gain, and a greater frequency of catch-up saccades than healthy children. Subjects with psychotic disorder not otherwise specified also had qualitatively poorer eye tracking, higher root mean square error, and lower gain than healthy children, but saccade frequency did not differ significantly. Conclusions: Children with childhoodonset schizophrenia exhibit a pattern of eye-tracking dysfunction similar to that reported for adult patients. Similar abnormalities were seen in the subjects with psychotic disorder not otherwise specified except that they did not exhibit a greater frequency of catch-up saccades. Prospective longitudinal neurobiological and clinical follow-up studies of both groups are currently underway to further validate the distinction between these two disorders. Also, family studies are planned to establish whether eye-tracking dysfunction represents a trait- or state-related phenomenon in subjects with psychotic disorder not otherwise specified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1291-1298
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Volume158
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2001

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    Kumra, S., Sporn, A., Hommer, D. W., Nicolson, R., Thaker, G., Israel, E., Lenane, M., Bedwell, J., Jacobsen, L. K., Gochman, P., & Rapoport, J. L. (2001). Smooth pursuit eye-tracking impairment in childhood-onset psychotic disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 158(8), 1291-1298. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.158.8.1291