Cross-diagnostic comparison of visual processing in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia

Carol Jahshan, Jonathan K. Wynn, Amanda McCleery, David C. Glahn, Lori L. Altshuler, Michael F. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Patients with Schizophrenia (SZ) show deficits across various stages of visual information processing. Whether patients with Bipolar Disorder (BD) exhibit these deficits is unclear. In this study, we conducted a detailed comparison of specific stages of early visual perception in BD and SZ. Forty-three BD patients, 43 SZ patients, and 51 matched healthy control subjects (HC) were administered three visual processing paradigms emphasizing: 1) an early stage of object formation (location backward masking), 2) a middle stage of object substitution (four-dot backward masking), and 3) a later stage at the perception-attention interface (rapid serial visual processing (RSVP) task eliciting the attentional blink). SZ performed significantly worse than BD and HC on location and four-dot masking. BD did not significantly differ from HC on either masking task. Both patient groups performed significantly worse than HC on the RSVP task; unlike SZ, BD did not show a significant attentional blink effect compared to HC. Our results indicate that BD patients were intact at the early and middle stages of visual processing (object formation and substitution) but intermediate between the SZ and HC groups at a later processing stage involving perceptual and attentional processes (RSVP task). These findings suggest that SZ is characterized by a diffuse pathophysiology affecting all stages of visual processing whereas in BD disruption is only at the latest stage involving higher order attentional functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-48
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Attentional blink
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Masking
  • Perception
  • Schizophrenia
  • Visual processing


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