You can tell a schizophrenic by looking into his eyes--literally

If eyes are the windows to the soul, perhaps we can now gain access into the inner world of a schizophrenic.

A recent paper published in Biological Psychiatry states that schizophrenics can be identified by characteristic eye movements--so much so that researchers were able to point out the disease in test subjects with about 98-percent accuracy.

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Three viewing tests measure eye movement abnormalities

Scientists used a series of viewing tests to detect abnormalities in eye movement. In the smooth pursuit test, it appears that someone with schizophrenia has trouble tracking a slow-moving object smoothly. The free-viewing test had subjects gaze at a picture. While most people follow a pattern as their eyes scan an image, a schizophrenic appears to have an abnormal scan patten. The third test, called a fixation task, requires an individual to keep a steady gaze on an unmoving point. This test proved to be challenging for someone with schizophrenia.

A model for assisting with diagnoses

Using the data from their findings, the researchers developed a model that they hope will help medical professionals make proper schizophrenia diagnoses, instead of relying solely on symptom-based criteria.

Drs. Philip Benson and David St. Clair, lead study authors, elaborated:

"Typical neuropsychological assessments are time-consuming, expensive, and require highly trained individuals to administer. In comparison, these eye tests are simple, cheap, and take only minutes to conduct."

The authors are anxious to do further research to determine when these types of eye movement abnormalities may be detectable in a person with schizophrenia, such as at the onset of the disease or even before a person starts showing symptoms.

Source: Science Codex

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