Powered by KikBooks Widget

By on March 21, 2012, with 53 Comments

Few years ago, researches from the London University discovered that schizophrenics are not that easily fooled by visual illusions. Even though their illness sometimes makes it difficult for them to distinguish fact from fiction, the study showed that they can see right through some optical illusions. What is so interesting about this finding is that it helps bolster one interpretation of this mental illness – that it may be due to a general inability to interpret sensory information in its proper context.

Schizophrenia Test

We often think of people with schizophrenia as not seeing the world the way it really is – for example, during hallucinations – but we have shown that sometimes their vision can be more accurate than non-sufferers – Dr. Steven Dakin, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology

How Was The Test Conducted

Schizophrenia Test

Which one of the surrounding shapes matches the central circle in level of contrast?

Volunteers were shown high-contrast black and white patterned images, with sections altered so that the level of contrast is much lower. They were then asked effectively to match the contrast of the altered section to its twin in a line up of otherwise identical shapes.

Schizophrenics find this task relatively easy, because their brain takes no account of the surrounding information when judging the level of contrast in the altered section. Non-schizophrenic brains, however, make relative judgments about the altered section, because of the surrounding higher contrast pattern.

The results were startling: 12 of the 15 schizophrenic observers were more accurate than the most-accurate member of the control group. The illusion is pretty substantial, but the schizophrenics were almost completely immune to its effect.

Though it’s till early, the authors hope their study might have some diagnostic value. Existing criteria for schizophrenia diagnosis tend to be subjective, and is based on interviews, but this study might be a good step towards more objective diagnostics one day.

The Explanation

To normal eyes, exampled background makes the central disk appear slightly greyer than it actually is. The researchers then assessed the subjects’ perception, showing them a series of disks of increasing grayness. For each disk, the observer had to guess whether the patch was of more or less contrast than the original image.

Schizophrenia Test

Dr Steven Dakin, of the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, explained: “Normally, contextual processes in the brain help us to focus on what’s relevant and stop our brains being overwhelmed with information. This process seems to be less effective in the schizophrenic brain, possibly due to insufficient inhibition – that is, the process by which cells in the brain switch each other off.”

He suggests that if this is part of a more general problem in dealing with information about context, it could explain why many schizophrenics misinterpret people’s actions, and can feel persecuted.

If you liked this article, you may also like this one explaining why children and adults size up objects differently.

Comments

53 Responses
  1. Jon-Paul says:

    That really is interesting. I had to look at it multiple times to realize the difference.

    • Pimpin says:

      Uh oh i got them both correct and rather quick! you can tell which the lightest looking circles were…all the rest match each other. im manic, not skitzo

    • steve says:

      i saw the matches instantly. i always seem to do that in optical illusions…

  2. Phil says:

    That’s actually really interesting, I found myself going for one of the circles much closer to the true match, but then those of us who read this site are more used to the way optical illusions try to trick you than most people! (at least I hope that’s why I got more right than the average…)

  3. Josh says:

    You’ll probably harvest some criticism with this article but not from me. I think it is great that you sometimes post articles on things related to illusions.

  4. Madelon says:

    Oh dear, I had them both right… D:

  5. Max says:

    Oh no!!!
    I’m schizophrenic.

    • Owoko says:

      Just cause the test matches don’t mean anything. you still need to take the test.

  6. Carl Goodfellow says:

    These findings are true in many ways !! 1 – To confirm – The brain does shutdown after digesting too much information. It is to protect it’s self from becoming deluded. What others perceive as the real experience of situations the Schizophrenic see’s this much deeper and keeps his own findings of life personal. It’s in this shutdown that symptoms appear and yes others do notice. Like a page stuck. 2 – For E.G watching Darren Brown on television has little or no effect on me personally having already read Darrens locked Body Language which is not so to the keen eye !! Knowing he is trying to corrupt an open mind is enough to keep watchful and so guarded is the Schizophrenic suffer not only because of paranoia and fear of the knowledge they know. It’s the conscious awareness what other people can hold over others if we don’t keep acute !! All this said and done we can open up to our families but it’s in the painful truth of deceivers who use fear for their own illegitimate games that keeps us so tightly bound and on the watch. YOUR findings are excellent . . . . . (Schizophrenic for 11yrs currently 31yrs old) xx

  7. Bones says:

    Not an optical illusion per se, but a very interesting article.
    Any idea of when this experiment / discovery was made?!
    This is also my first comment here, keep up the good work!

  8. May says:

    Guess I have schizophrenia, lol.

  9. Emily says:

    Personally, I don’t think they should use this test to diagnose schizophrenia. I got the true match right just from looking at it, yet I’ve had CAT scans which say I’m not a scizo (I get seizures, so they test me often to see how my brains doing).

    On a side note, if you believe in the paranormal, maybe scizo’s are really seeing things “regular” people can not, such as ghosts.

    • steve says:

      cat scans cant tell you if you have schizophrenia although they can tell you its likely. what does tell you that you have schizophrenia is seeing or hearing things that arent there and coming to ridiculous conclusions from things.

  10. John Gary William says:

    Roses are Red,
    Violets are Blue,
    I’m Schizophrenic,
    And So Am I.

  11. Lak says:

    When I first saw the images I got the typical match, but a voice in my head was telling me that the correct answer was the true match.
    I think I´m scizo only to think that.

  12. Terry says:

    I didn’t get it right, but the other person in this chair got it first time !

  13. Care Bear says:

    Now this one is a keeper. I work in the mental health field so it could come in handy.

  14. DerWonko says:

    Very interesting! A link to the publication, researcher’s webiste or something like that would be nice.

    BTW, I did not look for long, but the darkest ones looked correct to me. But maybe readers of this blog are more trained in this stuff?

  15. Star says:

    When I first looked I saw the true match but the longer i looked at the center circle it did start to fad.

  16. Feije says:

    I know I’m not schizofrenic
    Still, in no time
    I picked the true ones

    I am Asperger

  17. Amanda says:

    it was basically always the lightest colored one

  18. Phoebus says:

    I got them both right. But since I don’t think my co-workers are conspiring against me and I don’t think the CIA are after me I don’t have all the symptoms.

  19. Hannah says:

    I guess I’m schizophrenic, LOL ;P I guessed right the first time :O

  20. Nicole says:

    I got the true match for both within seconds?
    It says here that
    “…The results were startling: 12 of the 15 schizophrenic observers were more accurate than the most-accurate member of the control group…”
    Does that mean that only schizophrenic people got the correct match? Surely this cannot be correct.
    I did these tests last year when I was 17 (IQ and this other one- we thought I had ADD). They said that I scored high (for a non-schizophrenic person) on the schizophrenic portions of the tests, but they attributed the high score to my perfectionistic tendencies.

    I’m ‘normal’ and I still got the true matches… Surely this would be an ineffective way of helping to diagnose this mental illness if normal people get it right? Unless the doctor was wrong and I am actually schizophrenic… :/

  21. qigongdoc says:

    The little voice says it’s the top one.

  22. Weebo says:

    I got the true matches, am I schizophrenic?

  23. kayset says:

    nice! i got both right

  24. Perg says:

    People sure do like to make fun of other peoples problems, mental or physical. I say the “illusion” is not offensive, but the immature heartless comments are.

  25. Jasen says:

    Lol, best comments ever!

  26. death says:

    what if i get one right?

  27. EvilJef says:

    I successfully guessed both correct shapes right away. It does explain why I have such an easy time figuring some of these out, and it does explain some other things, as well. . .

  28. chey says:

    People, this doesn’t you’re Schizophrenic. This test was just to boost the idea the you MIGHT have a mental illness.

  29. eric says:

    got the first one got the typical on the second.

  30. Abbie says:

    It scares me slightly that I am being tested for Psychotic dissorders, including Schizophrenia, and managed to get the correct answers :s

  31. Rio says:

    1. Schizophrenia is not the same thing as multiple personality disorder. Look it up before making stupid jokes.

    2. If you got it “right”, it may just mean you’re not neurotypical. Schizophrenic brains have a better chance of choosing the “right” one, but they probably aren’t the only brains that have that tendency. It would be interesting to see further testing done to find the odds of other non-neurotypical brains having this type of perception, including those with autism.

  32. Patron Zero says:

    I myself am diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), one of it’s acquisitions is Hyper-Vigilance, that said my brain is always filtering sensory information for ‘false data’ so finding the matches to the presented problems came to me in an almost automatic fashion such as blinking one’s eyes.

  33. mee says:

    oh! its supposed to bee the color?? i thought it was the pattern of it! i was like “its all the same!!!” :P

  34. fennec says:

    I got the one directly after the true match in both,which is nowhere near the usual answer in the second one…so I’m not schizo,but also not normal,apparently.

  35. shusmita says:

    this is CREEPY because lately i found out that optical illusions dont work on me (most of the times).
    now…
    im confused…
    should i be sad???
    or should i be happy (being in creative field and for the heightened power of imagination)

  36. ellie says:

    yeah… they all look the same to me :(

  37. david delacour says:

    optical illusions are so valuable in teaching us about foreground and background which relates to the study of gestalt phenomena- do you think MC Escher was a schitso? the phenomenon relates to our ability to focus on what we want(foreground desire)and locate that thing or person from an overload of sensory information our eyes see all at once- there isn’t any other visual phenomenon that can top it-

  38. Emily ffion says:

    I got it right first time and I’m a paranoid schizophrenic. How interesting.

  39. mamamielkdud says:

    This is quite fascinating to me. Do you think it could possibly be useful in helping to diagnose schizophrenia in children as well as in adults? I understand that this certainly would not give a definitive diagnosis, but wondered if it would be just as helpful with kids and with adults.

  40. PenguinLover says:

    1st one was easy for me, but 2nd confuzzled my brain heaps…

  41. Mia says:

    I have schizophrenia it is really scary because someone is watching you all the time and a marshan is trying to poison me

  42. Angela says:

    I didn’t get them right but my imaginary friend did.

    • fuck off says:

      hilarious. now how about next time you consider mocking the disabled you just hold your breath until you pass out instead you waste of fucking air

  43. this is weird says:

    I have either psychotic disorder NOS or schizoaffective disorder depressive type and I really couldn’t make my mind up on which was the correct circle. In fact I thought all the checkered circles looked the same. It could be my tablet though. I don’t have any delusions or paranoia. I don’t think any one is after me and I certainly don’t feel special. I just seem to have auditory hallucinations on and off.

Speak Your Mind

You can add some images too.

Pinterest