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April 1985

Pharmacologic Evidence for Specificity of Pursuit Dysfunction to SchizophreniaLithium Carbonate Associated With Abnormal Pursuit

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Psychiatry (Drs Levy, Dorus, and Shaughnessy) and Radiology (Mr Yasillo), University of Chicago; the Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois, Chicago (Drs Pandey, Janicak, Gibbons, Gaviria, and Davis); and the Department of Research, Illinois State Psychiatric Institute, Chicago (Drs Levy, Pandey, Janicak, and Davis).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1985;42(4):335-341. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1985.01790270021002

• Conflicting findings regarding the prevalence of abnormal smooth-pursuit eye movements in patients with major affective disorders call into question the specificity of impaired smooth-pursuit eye movements to schizophrenia. We report that pursuit is impaired in 88% of lithium carbonate—treated affective disorder patients whose pursuit was normal prior to receiving this drug. Over half of lithium carbonate—treated affective disorder patients in remission also showed impairment of smooth-pursuit eye movements. In conjunction with recent prevalence data on family members of psychiatric patients, the findings support the specificity of abnormal pursuit as a biological trait associated with schizophrenia, but not with the major affective disorders. The mechanisms by which lithium carbonate impairs pursuit are discussed.