The ability to detect the direction of another person's gaze and to shift our own attention reflexively in the same direction facilitates the sharing of attention with other people. Such sharing of attention would seem critical for the maintenance of normal social cognition. Social cognition is severely impaired in people with schizophrenia. So, we used spatial cuing paradigms to investigate reflexive (Experiment 1) and controlled (Experiment 2) attentional orienting triggered by gaze in schizophrenia. In Experiment 1, 30 patients and 24 controls detected targets appearing right or left of a central image of a head turned right, left, or straight-ahead. These gaze-cues were non-predictive. Patients, but not controls, showed a significant congruency advantage at 100 ms SOA. The congruency advantage was similar in patients and controls at 300-800 ms SOA. In Experiment 2, 20 patients and 24 controls detected targets 300-800 ms after a central gaze-cue that pointed away from the target on 80% of trials. Controls, but not patients, were able to reverse the reflexive congruency advantage at 800 ms SOA. This study provides the first evidence that people with schizophrenia show abnormally sensitive gaze-triggered reflexive orienting. Findings are discussed in light of recent neuroimaging work investigating the neural basis of social orienting and social cognition.
|Number of pages||13|
|Publication status||Published - 2006|