Abnormal Gesture Perception and Clinical High-Risk for Psychosis

Tina Gupta*, K. Juston Osborne, Vijay A. Mittal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Individuals diagnosed with psychotic disorders exhibit abnormalities in the perception of expressive behaviors, which are linked to symptoms and visual information processing domains. Specifically, literature suggests these groups have difficulties perceiving gestures that accompany speech. While our understanding of gesture perception in psychotic disorders is growing, gesture perception abnormalities and clues about potential causes and consequences among individuals meeting criteria for a clinical high-risk (CHR) syndrome is limited. Presently, 29 individuals with a CHR syndrome and 32 healthy controls completed an eye-tracking gesture perception paradigm. In this task, participants viewed an actor using abstract and literal gestures while presenting a story and eye gaze data (eg, fixation counts and total fixation time) was collected. Furthermore, relationships between fixation variables and both symptoms (positive, negative, anxiety, and depression) and measures of visual information processing (working memory and attention) were examined. Findings revealed that the CHR group gazed at abstract gestures fewer times than the control group. When individuals in the CHR group did gaze at abstract gestures, on average, they spent significantly less time fixating compared to controls. Furthermore, reduced fixation (ie, count and time) was related to depression and slower response time on an attentional task. While a similar pattern of group differences in the same direction appeared for literal gestures, the effect was not significant. These data highlight the importance of integrating gesture perception abnormalities into vulnerability models of psychosis and inform the development of targeted treatments for social communicative deficits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)938-947
Number of pages10
JournalSchizophrenia bulletin
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021


  • abstract and literal gestures
  • clinical high-risk
  • depression
  • gesture
  • gesture perception
  • schizophrenia
  • visual attention
  • working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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