Dysfunction in smooth pursuit eye movements and history of childhood trauma

Harvey J. Irwin*, Melissa J. Green, Pamela J. Marsh

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    Several commentators recently have advocated the view that a deficit in the performance of a smooth pursuit eye-movement task is a biological marker of the genetic predisposition to schizophrenia. This study considered the possibility that such an impairment is due in part to experiential or acquired characteristics, and specifically, to a history of childhood trauma. A sample of 100 Australian adults performed a visual tracking task and completed a self-report measure of childhood trauma. Although the effect size was small, a relationship was found between eye-tracking performance and a childhood history of physical and emotional abuse. This finding suggests that eye-tracking performance may not be governed entirely by genetic factors, a possibility that has implications for the use of indices of smooth pursuit eye movement as a purely genetic marker of proneness to schizophrenia. Further investigation is needed to clarify the basis of the association between these deficits and childhood abuse.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1230-1236
    Number of pages7
    JournalPerceptual and Motor Skills
    Issue number3 PART 1
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 1999

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