Evidence that eye-movement profiles do not explain slow binocular rivalry rate in bipolar disorder: Support for a perceptual endophenotype

Phillip CF Law, Caroline T Gurvich, Trung T Ngo, Steven M Miller

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Objectives: Presenting conflicting images simultaneously, one to each eye, produces perceptual alternations known as binocular rivalry (BR). Slow BR rate has been proposed as an endophenotype for bipolar disorder (BD) for use in large-scale genome-wide association studies. However, the trait could conceivably reflect eye movement (EM) dysfunction in BD rather than anomalous perceptual processing per se. To address this question, we examined the relationship between EM profiles and BR rate for various stimulus types in BD and healthy subjects. We also examined differences in EM profiles between these groups. Methods: Employing a repeated-measures within-subjects design, 20 BD outpatients and 20 age- and sex-matched healthy controls completed EM tasks and separate BR tasks involving a range of stimuli with different drift speeds. The association between each EM measure and BR rate was examined with correlational analyses for all stimulus conditions in both groups. Between-group comparisons were performed to determine any differences in those EM measures. Corresponding Bayesian analyses were also conducted. Results: There were no EM measures that showed a significant relationship with BR rate in either the BD group or the healthy group (P≥7.87×10-3), where those EM measures were also significantly different between the BD and healthy groups (P≥1.32 × 10-2). These findings were verified with Bayes factors. Conclusions: The results provide evidence that EM profiles do not explain the slow BR endophenotype for BD, thus indicating that the trait reflects anomalous perceptual processing per se. This perceptual trait can be employed in clinical, genetic, mechanistic and pathophysiological studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberBDI12515
Pages (from-to)465-476
Number of pages12
JournalBipolar Disorders
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017


  • Bayes factors
  • Binocular rivalry
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Endophenotype
  • Individual variation
  • Perceptual alternation rate
  • Saccadic eye movements

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