Objectives: It is increasingly important to develop predictors of treatment response and outcome in schizophrenia. Neuropsychological impairments, particularly those reflecting frontal lobe function, appear to predict poor outcome. Eye movement abnormalities probably also reflect frontal lobe deficits. We wished to see if these two aspects of schizophrenia were correlated and whether they could distinguish a treatment resistant from a treatment responsive group.
Methods: Ten treatment resistant schizophrenic patients were compared with ten treatment responsive patients on three eye movement paradigms (reflexive saccades, antisaccades and smooth pursuit), clinical psychopathology (BPRS, SANS and CGI) and a neuropsychological test battery designed to detect frontal lobe dysfunction. Ten aged-matched controls also carried out the eye movement tasks.
Results: Both treatment responsive (p = 0.038) and treatment resistant (p = 0.007) patients differed significantly from controls on the antisaccade task. The treatment resistant group had a higher error rate than the treatment responsive group, but the difference was not statistically significant. Similar poor neuropsychological test performance was found in both groups.
Conclusions: To demonstrate the biological differences characteristic of treatment resistance, larger sample sizes and wider differences in outcome between the two groups are necessary.