Background: Delusions, a core symptom of schizophrenia, are thought to arise from an alteration in predictive coding mechanisms that underlie perceptual inference. Here, we aimed to empirically test the hypothesized link between delusions and perceptual inference.
Method: 28 patients with schizophrenia and 32 healthy controls matched for age and gender took part in a behavioral experiment that assessed the influence of stabilizing predictions on perception of an ambiguous visual stimulus.
Results: Participants with schizophrenia exhibited a weaker tendency towards percept stabilization during intermittent viewing of the ambiguous stimulus compared to healthy controls. The tendency towards percept stabilization in participants with schizophrenia correlated negatively with delusional ideation as measured with a validated questionnaire.
Conclusion: Our results indicate an association between a weakened effect of sensory predictions in perceptual inference and delusions in schizophrenia. We suggest that attenuated predictive signaling during perceptual inference in schizophrenia may yield the experience of aberrant salience, thereby providing the starting point for the formation of delusions.
- Journal Article