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
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.