According to a popular adage, the eyes are the window to the soul. But the eyes may also help diagnose mental disorders such as schizophrenia, depression and autism, according to researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Researchers have long reported irregularities in the eye movements of patients with mental disorders. Patients with autism have difficulty maintaining eye contact with others. Schizophrenics are often unable to keep their eyes focused on slow-moving objects. These abnormalities, researchers say, reflect defects in the neural circuitry of the brain—defects that are well documented but as yet poorly understood.
Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, John Sweeney, director of the Center for Cognitive Medicine in UIC's department of psychiatry, and his colleagues are spearheading a research initiative to study and catalog eye movement patterns in patients with psychiatric disorders.