Magnetic resonance imaging of saccadic eye movement circuitry in healthy and diseased states
Schaeffer, David James
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A behavioral hallmark of schizophrenia is poor cognitive control. Cognitive control is a construct which refers to the ability to flexibly respond to changing environments. Saccadic eye movement tasks have emerged as a valuable tool in the cognitive neurosciences for quantifying cognitive control and identifying the neural circuitry related to poor cognitive control in schizophrenia. Although poor cognitive control performance in schizophrenia can be successfully modeled using complex saccadic tasks, a non-trivial proportion of otherwise healthy people from the general population show consonantly poor performance on these tasks. As such, cognitive control ability may be a mediating factor in typical comparisons between healthy groups and people with schizophrenia, with variance in structural and functional differences related to cognitive control rather than illness-specific alterations. This body of work presents a series of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) studies aimed at isolating schizophrenia-specific alterations in saccadic eye movement circuity. Overall, the present findings have utility for clinical neuroimaging studies by demonstrating that functional and structural differences identified between schizophrenia and healthy groups may not be entirely specific to the disease process and can vary as a function cognitive control capacity in the comparison group.