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Carly Leonard, Benjamin Robinson, Britta Hahn, Steve Luck, James Gold; Saccadic evidence for spatial hyperfocusing in people with schizophrenia. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):1328. doi: 10.1167/17.10.1328.
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During daily functioning, a person makes thousands of goal-driven saccades to align the receptor-rich fovea with task-relevant information from the visual field. People with schizophrenia (PSZ) are known to be impaired at daily functioning, and recent work from our group suggests a tendency to hyperfocus on a subset of information might contribute to such dysfunction. Consistent with the related hypothesis that schizophrenia is associated with spatial hyperfocusing, Luck et al. (2014) found that a parafoveal distractor presented at a task-irrelevant location (either above or below central fixation) produced greater saccadic interference to a lateralized target in PSZ than in healthy controls (HCS). However, this previous experiment used only a single distractor distance, making it impossible to differentiate between a generalized impairment due to distractor presence and an increase in spatial attention to locations near the point of fixation. In the current experiment, participants made speeded saccades to a peripheral target that was equally likely to be presented to the left or right of fixation at 5° eccentricity. On 80% of trials, the peripheral lateralized target was presented simultaneuously with a task-irrelevant distractor, which was positioned above or below fixation at a distance of either 1.5° or 5°. Participants also completed a short block without distractors to assess baseline performance. Analysis of first fixation location showed increased interference in PSZ compared to HCS for the distractors close to fixation but not those farther away. Between-group differences in other behavioral and saccadic metrics will also be discussed. Overall, these results support a spatial hyperfocusing account rather than a generalized attentional impairment in PSZ.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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