Gestalt perception in schizophrenia

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Summary

An experiment is described which investigates perceptual processing in schizophrenia. It examines the extent to which subjects employ top-down and bottomup processing strategies in the interpretation of tachistoscopically presented images. The findings support the hypothesis that schizophrenic subjects do not benefit as controls do from the use of automatic, top-down processing of deeper level stimuli containing semantic information. However, it illustrates that, given sufficient processing time (up to 1000 ms), schizophrenics are able to compensate for this deficit by employing a bottom-up strategy requiring longer processing time. The findings suggest that the specific processing abnormalities in schizophrenia are amenable to detailed measurement, and some suggestions are made for further investigation.