Feeds

Schizophrenics fall for no illusions

Paranoid? Its all about context

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.