Biology 202
1998 First Web Reports
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The Importance of Perception to Schizophrenics

Gungsadawn Katatikarn

Schizophrenia is one of the most complex brain disorders. It is a genetically contrived disease which has nothing to do with misconceived characteristic of split personalities. It concerns the degradation of the brain observed through common symptoms collectively known as "positive symptoms." The common "positive symptoms" are insequential thought processes, delusions, disorganized speech, and hallucinations (4). Other symptoms, such as apathy, alogia, avolition, depression or social withdrawal are known as "deficit symptoms(4)." Schizophrenia diminishes the neurodevelopment, the social learning as well as the behavioral developmental processes of the brain (1). Since most of the symptoms affect behavior, it is crucial to incorporate the subjective view of the schizophrenic patient. Most schizophrenic symptoms suggest the obstruction or interruption of perception mechanisms, and the limited motor reaction capacity. In this essay, various aspects are put forth to show how input mechanisms of the individual's perception induces the "self " to complicate output interaction and control.

Sensory input mechanisms and memory play vital roles in the perception of the individual. The individual's internal preconceived images, notions and information provide immediate orientation in external situations. However, the schizophrenic's perception has no conscious point of reference to orientate him or herself to in the external world. This point of reference may be called the cognitive schemata(1). The individual without this stored knowledge of cognitive schemata is then trapped in their inner world with strange, traumatic interactions with the outer world. Therefore the schizophrenic must relentlessly reevaluate common activities.

This is due to the fact that the sensory inputs, such as eye movement, are interpreted differently. In Hommer's experiment, through the utilization of an internal model, they examined smooth pursuit eye movement(2). The results revealed that patients without visual feedback were unlikely to form the motor task required(1). According to Frith and Done, this demonstrates a dysfunction in the center monitoring of action in eye movement. As shown here the schizophrenic's visual stimuli is altered. Instead of a smooth, continuous sensory input pattern, the schizophrenic's perceptual input pattern is random and segmented; this in turn causes feelings of confusion and anxiety. Also, visual stimuli reaction time is delayed(4). This results in slower conceptual input and therefore is one reason why schizophrenics become comotozed. They concentrate on an object in order to distinguish it and even then they cannot study all of it. Due to the inability of visual feedback they may only study scrutinize particular parts of the specific object. As the schizophrenic condition becomes worse the automatic processes mechanisms deteriorate further(1). The innerself must counterbalance these fragmented pieces of reality without any substantial perspective from output or input mechanisms.

For an example, a schizophrenic patient said,

"It's not that I can't concentrate right, it's just that I can't concentrate on the major issues. I get fogged up with all the different bits and lose the important things in the picture. I find myself paying attention to al sorts of tiny things instead o getting on with the things I should be doing. (McGhie en Chapmman, 1961)." (1)
Therefore various sensory input mechanisms are altered causing time external time constancy to differ from internal time constancy. This perpetuates the schizophrenic's feelings of isolation and distress. To the schizophrenic, time becomes irrelevant. To lose constancy of time is to lose the basis of reality because time represents social order in daily life. The consequence of this may be hallucinations, such as voices. Another consequence of the altered sensory is "deficit symptoms." They impair the sense of perception drastically and hinder social-learning. When the schizophrenic is mentally and emotionally strained, negative symptoms, like paranoia and apathy arise.. The instinctual desire to be safe is apparent. This is why the sense of paranoia is prevalent in schizophrenics. Apathy may effect them as well. According to statistics, ten percent of those who have the disease commit suicide. In both symptom cases, the schizophrenic is frustrated. They do not understand the outer world nor can they communicate with the outer world. The schizophrenic is alone and therefore turns to his or her own psychotic conscious.

Another thought to keep in mind is although many who have schizophrenics do not reproduce, the disorder in humans still thrives. There are several causes of schizophrenia, such as genetic, schizoid personality, neurotransmitter imbalance , organic influences, or neuropyscho logical abnormalities. According to statistics, one in a hundred person is affected by schizophrenia(3). The genetic underpinnings give the implication that many people may carry the allele for this severe disorder. The probability of developing schizophrenia as the offspring when one schizophrenic parent is approximately thirteen percent(3). The probability of developing the disease as the offspring of both schizophrenic parents is about 35 percent (3). While the prime age to develop the "Youth's Greatest Disabler," is between 16 and 25 years of age. In the 16 to 25 year old group rage, schizophrenia affects more men than women (3). While in the 25 to 30 year old group, the incidence is higher in woman than in men (3). As noted before schizophrenia is not as rare as thought to be. Does this mean that there are many who are either are prone to this disorder, have a recessive allele for disorder or already have it a slight case of the disorder. If there a specific group of the population effected? Since there are several causes for schizophrenia besides genetic codes, perhaps a certain group of people, for example occupation, is more prone to have schizophrenics then others.

In conclusion, the idea that the brain is the basis of the individual is constantly supported in the study of schizophrenia. As seen in this paper, proper perception of inputs and outputs located in the brain, the individual can not exist.. As Dr. Robert J.vanden Bosch describes the disease of schizophrenia, it is the "disequilibrium of bottom-up and top-down cognitive processes(1)."

WWW Sources

1) Context and Cognition in Schizophrenia

2) Ask the Expert - Schizophrenia and Eye Tracking

3) What is Schizophrenia?

4) Schizophrenic Disorders

This paper reflects the research and thoughts of a student at the time the paper was written for a course at Bryn Mawr College. Like other materials on Serendip, it is not intended to be "authoritative" but rather to help others further develop their own explorations. Web links were active as of the time the paper was posted but are not updated.

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