The P1 visual-evoked potential, red light, and transdiagnostic psychiatric symptoms

Jeffrey S. Bedwell, Christopher C. Spencer, Chi C. Chan, Pamela D. Butler, Pejman Sehatpour, Joseph Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


A reduced P1 visual-evoked potential amplitude has been reported across several psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia-spectrum, bipolar, and depressive disorders. In addition, a difference in P1 amplitude change to a red background compared to its opponent color, green, has been found in schizophrenia-spectrum samples. The current study examined whether specific psychiatric symptoms that related to these P1 abnormalities in earlier studies would be replicated when using a broad transdiagnostic sample. The final sample consisted of 135 participants: 26 with bipolar disorders, 25 with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, 19 with unipolar depression, 62 with no current psychiatric disorder, and 3 with disorders in other categories. Low (8%) and high (64%) contrast check arrays were presented on gray, green, and red background conditions during electroencephalogram, while an eye tracker monitored visual fixation on the stimuli. Linear regressions across the entire sample (N = 135) found that greater severity of both clinician-rated and self-reported delusions/magical thinking correlated with a reduced P1 amplitude on the low contrast gray (neutral) background condition. In addition, across the entire sample, higher self-reported constricted affect was associated with a larger decrease in P1 amplitude (averaged across contrast conditions) to the red, compared to green, background. All relationships remained statistically significant after covarying for diagnostic class, suggesting that they are relatively transdiagnostic in nature. These findings indicate that early visual processing abnormalities may be more directly related to specific transdiagnostic symptoms such as delusions and constricted affect rather than specific psychiatric diagnoses or broad symptom factor scales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-154
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Research
StatePublished - 15 May 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Bipolar
  • Depression
  • EEG
  • Event-related potentials
  • Schizophrenia
  • Visual-evoked potentials


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