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Pharmacologic Evidence for Specificity of Pursuit Dysfunction to Schizophrenia:  Lithium Carbonate Associated With Abnormal Pursuit

Deborah L. Levy, PhD; Elizabeth Dorus, PhD; Rita Shaughnessy, PhD; Nicholas J. Yasillo; Ghanshyam N. Pandey, PhD; Philip G. Janicak, MD; Robert D. Gibbons, PhD; Moises Gaviria, MD; John M. Davis, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1985;42(4):335-341. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1985.01790270021002.
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• Conflicting findings regarding the prevalence of abnormal smooth-pursuit eye movements in patients with major affective disorders call into question the specificity of impaired smooth-pursuit eye movements to schizophrenia. We report that pursuit is impaired in 88% of lithium carbonate—treated affective disorder patients whose pursuit was normal prior to receiving this drug. Over half of lithium carbonate—treated affective disorder patients in remission also showed impairment of smooth-pursuit eye movements. In conjunction with recent prevalence data on family members of psychiatric patients, the findings support the specificity of abnormal pursuit as a biological trait associated with schizophrenia, but not with the major affective disorders. The mechanisms by which lithium carbonate impairs pursuit are discussed.

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