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In mammals, GABAergic projections from the substantia nigra reticulata to the superior colliculus provide tonic inhibition to tectal neurons involved in the generation of saccades. Dysfunction of this pathway has been shown to produce saccadic “distractibility” in the experimental monkey. In two oculomotor paradigms, control of saccadic eye movements was tested in chronic schizophrenic patients with (n = 18) and without (n = 16) tardive dyskinesia (TD) and normal controls (n = 8). The three groups were matched by mean age; the TD and non-TD patient groups had similar duration of illness, benztropine and chlorpromazine equivalent doses and educational levels. A twofold increase in saccadic distractibility was observed in TD compared to non-TD schizophrenic patients, and both patient groups demonstrated a greater saccadic distractibility than normals. Furthermore, schizophrenic patients (both with and without TD) showed significantly increased latency for “volitional” saccades compared to the normal controls. These findings may provide further evidence for basal ganglia GABA dysfunction in tardive dyskinesia, as well as demonstrate oculomotor abnormalities in schizophrenic individuals.
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Received in revised form: February 26, 1988
Received: August 17, 1987
☆Supported in part by NIMH Grants R03 MH40641-01 and MH402 79-03.
© 1989 Published by Elsevier Inc.