Research Article| Volume 29, ISSUE 1, P82-88, January 01, 1991

Tobacco smoking increases square-wave jerks during pursuit eye movements

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      Smooth-pursuit eye-movement (SPEM) abnormalities have been consistenly observed in schizophrenia. The SPEM changes in schizophrenia are not thought to be an artifact of voluntary attention or medication, although a number of nondisease factors are known to affect SPEM. However, cigarette smoking has recently been reported to deteriorate SPEM in both smokers and nonsmokers. This finding is particularly relevant to schizophrenia, because schizophrenic patients smoke cigarettes considerably more than do normals, and none of the previous studies in this patient group have controlled for smoking. The current study was initiated to examine the effects of smoking on a number of oculomotor measures, including SPEM in smoker and nonsmoker normal volunteers. The results of this study suggest that cigarette smoking induces or significantly increases square-wave jerks, especially during smooth pursuit in normals. However, the effect is small and the global qualitative SPEM score is not affected. Other eye movements such as latencies for reflex and volitional saccades and saccadic distractibility are also unaffected by smoking. No differences were apparent between chronic smokers and nonsmokers under nonsmoking conditions in any of the eye-movement measures.
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