Feeds

Schizophrenics fall for no illusions

Paranoid? Its all about context

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The paranoia, or sense of persecution, experienced by some schizophrenics could be due to a problem they have processing contextual information, according to researchers at University College London (UCL).

Researchers at the London university found that schizophrenics are not fooled by visual illusions that easily trick non-schizophrenics.

Volunteers were shown high-contrast black and white patterned images, with sections altered so that the level of contrast is much lower. They were then asked effectively to match the contrast of the altered section to its twin in a line up of otherwise identical shapes.

The illusion. Image credit: UCL

Schizophrenics find this task relatively easy, because their brain takes no account of the surrounding information when judging the level of contrast in the altered section of the pattern. Non-schizophrenic brains, however, make relative judgments about the altered section, because of the surrounding higher contrast pattern.

Dr Steven Dakin, of the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, commented: "We often think of people with schizophrenia as not seeing the world the way it really is - for example, during hallucinations - but we have shown that sometimes their vision can be more accurate than non-sufferers."

He explained that people who do well at this kind of task, tend to do so for a very specific reason, while poor performance can be due to a number of different factors.

"Our findings may shed some light on the brain mechanisms involved in schizophrenia," he added.

"Normally, contextual processes in the brain help us to focus on what’s relevant and stop our brains being overwhelmed with information. This process seems to be less effective in the schizophrenic brain, possibly due to insufficient inhibition - that is, the process by which cells in the brain switch each other off."

He suggests that if this is part of a more general problem in dealing with information about context, it could explain why many schizophrenics misinterpret people's actions, and can feel persecuted.

The research is reported in the journal Biology. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.