Using dynamic point light display stimuli to assess gesture deficits in schizophrenia
Gesture deficits are ubiquitous in schizophrenia patients contributing to poor social communication and functional outcome. Given the dynamic nature of social communications, the current study aimed to explore the underlying socio-cognitive processes associated with point-light-displays (PLDs) of communicative gestures in the absence of any other confounding visual characteristics, and compare them to other well-established stimuli of gestures such as pictures by examining their association
... symptom severity and motor-cognitive modalities. Methods We included 39-stable schizophrenia outpatients and 27-age-gender matched controls and assessed gesture processing using two tasks. The first task used static stimuli of pictures of a person performing a gesture. The limbs executing the gesture were missing and participants' task was to choose the correct gesture from three-options provided. The second task included videos of dynamic PLDs interacting with each other. One PLD performed communicative gestures, while the other PLD imitated/followed these performed gestures. Participants had to indicate, which of the two PLDs was imitating/following the other. Additionally, we evaluated symptom severity, as well as, motor and cognitive parameters. Results Patients underperformed in both gesture tasks compared to controls. Task performance for static stimuli was associated with blunted affect, motor coordination and sequencing domains, while PLD performance was associated with expressive gestures and sensory integration processes. Discussion Gesture representations of static and dynamic stimuli are associated with distinct processes contributing to poor social communication in schizophrenia, requiring novel therapeutic interventions. Such stimuli can easily be applied remotely for screening socio-cognitive deficits in schizophrenia.