Chilean Scientists Can Detect Mental Illness Through Eye Movement

When comparing the eye behavior between healthy individuals and patients diagnosed with Schizophrenia or Alzheimer, specialists were able to identify differences both in eye movement and in electrical signals from the brain.


The research, led by Dr. Pedro Maldonado from the Chilean Biomedical Neuroscience Institute (Instituto de Neurociencia Biomédica de Chile, BNI), aims to diagnose these pathologies at an early stage in order to anticipate its treatment.

“We have discovered that natural eye movements and their corresponding reflex in brain signals are different in the patients studied, meaning that they are promising biomarkers for these pathologies” Maldonado commented during a conference offered by the Fundación Imagen de Chile.

The novel study, directed by Maldonado along with scientists Pablo Gaspar, Hernán Silva and Andrea Paula-Lima, is based on the calculation of eye movements and electro encephalic signals during the free exploration of natural images.

In this way, the Chilean scientists were able to detect a reduction of spatial exploration in patients diagnosed with Schizophrenia, which is to say that these patients did not make full use of all of their visual spectrum as healthy people do.  “We have been able to note that the reduction of visual exploration in these individuals is due to cognitive reasons,” Maldonado sustained.

The scientist stated that early detection of the symptoms is vital since “early interventions have a greater impact on the treatment of the symptoms related to these pathologies. In addition, it can reduce costs related to the care and quality of life of patients.”