An electrophysiological insight into visual attention mechanisms underlying schizotypy

Giorgio Fuggetta, Matthew A Bennett, Philip A Duke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A theoretical framework has been put forward to understand attention deficits in schizophrenia (Luck SJ & Gold JM. Biological Psychiatry. 2008; 64:34-39). We adopted this framework to evaluate any deficits in attentional processes in schizotypy. Sixteen low schizotypal (LoS) and 16 high schizotypal (HiS) individuals performed a novel paradigm combining a match-to-sample task, with inhibition of return (using spatially uninformative cues) and memory-guided efficient visual-search within one trial sequence. Behavioural measures and event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded. Behaviourally, HiS individuals exhibited a spatial cueing effect while LoS individuals showed the more typical inhibition of return effect. These results suggest HiS individuals have a relative deficit in rule selection - the endogenous control process involved in disengaging attention from the uninformative location cue. ERP results showed that the late-phase of N2pc evoked by the target stimulus had greater peak latency and amplitude in HiS individuals. This suggests a relative deficit in the implementation of selection - the process of focusing attention onto target features that enhances relevant/suppresses irrelevant inputs. This is a different conclusion than when the same theoretical framework has been applied to schizophrenia, which argues little or no deficit in implementation of selection amongst patients. Also, HiS individuals exhibited earlier onset and greater amplitude of the mismatch-triggered negativity component. In summary, our results indicate deficits of both control and implementation of selection in HiS individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-21
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Executive Function
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition (Psychology)
  • Male
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder
  • Space Perception
  • Visual Perception
  • Young Adult

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