Background: Effective integration of visual information is necessary to utilize abstract thinking, but patients with schizophrenia have slow eye movement and usually explore limited visual information. This study examines the relationship between abstract thinking ability and the pattern of eye gaze in patients with schizophrenia using a novel theme identification task.Methods: Twenty patients with schizophrenia and 22 healthy controls completed the theme identification task, in which subjects selected which word, out of a set of provided words, best described the theme of a picture. Eye gaze while performing the task was recorded by the eye tracker.Results: Patients exhibited a significantly lower correct rate for theme identification and lesser fixation and saccade counts than controls. The correct rate was significantly correlated with the fixation count in patients, but not in controls.Conclusions: Patients with schizophrenia showed impaired abstract thinking and decreased quality of gaze, which were positively associated with each other. Theme identification and eye gaze appear to be useful as tools for the objective measurement of abstract thinking in patients with schizophrenia.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Biological Psychiatry
- Behavioral Neuroscience