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August 1978

Vestibular Responses in Schizophrenia

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Psychiatry (Drs Levy and Holzman) and Otolaryngology (Dr Proctor), University of Chicago. Dr Levy is now with the Menninger Foundation, Topeka, Kan. Dr Holzman is now with the Department of Psychology and Social Relations, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. Dr Proctor is now with the Department of Otolaryngology, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1978;35(8):972-981. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1978.01770320066005

• In a study of vestibular responses to caloric stimulation that controlled opportunity for fixation and state of alertness, we evaluated previous findings of diminished nystagmus in schizophrenia. We failed to replicate earlier reports in these respects: (1) None of the psychotic patient groups, when compared with normal controls, showed lower response intensity, latency, or culmination time of the nystagmic response. (2) The schizophrenic groups did not manifest a prevalence of clinically significant asymmetry. We did, however, observe that chronic deteriorated schizophrenics and recent schizophrenics have significantly greater dysrhythmic responses. This diminished orderliness of nystagmus may explain previous reports of absent or diminished nystagmus in the schizophrenics. The results are not compatible with peripheral vestibular disease in schizophrenia, but they may reflect state-related phenomena consistent with disturbances in alertness, which are not necessarily voluntary or motivational in origin.