The eye may help diagnose mental illness
United Press International - June 18, 2003

CHICAGO, Jun 18, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago say they are studying subtle abnormalities in eye movements that may one day be used to diagnose psychiatric disease.

The researchers say they believe irregularities in how the eyes track a moving object reflect defects in the neural circuitry of the brain and appear to correspond with particular types of mental disorders.

They said schizophrenic patients, for example, have difficulty keeping their eyes focused on slow-moving objects. With new technology, such abnormalities can be measured precisely and compared with normal patterns.

The director of the university's Center for Cognitive Medicine in its department of psychiatry, John Sweeney, said, "Psychiatric illnesses are not well understood neurologically. Eye movement tests offer a way to investigate abnormalities in the brain that are causing these disturbances."

The goal, Sweeney told ScienceDaily magazine, is to develop eye movement tests as a simple, non-invasive tool for diagnosing brain disorders, including schizophrenia, depression and developmental illnesses such as autism.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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®2001 American Psychological Association
Last updated: 06/20/2003 - 08:17 AM