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Experiences of alien control in schizophrenia reflect a disorder in the central monitoring of action

  • Christopher D. Frith (a1) and D. John Done (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 July 2009

Twenty-three acute psychotic patients who were drug free at the time of testing performed a motor task designed to elicit many errors. Normal subjects and many of the psychotic patients were able to correct these errors in the absence of visual feedback. The ability to make such corrections depends on the subject knowing what response he has just made. Patients with experiences of alien control of their thoughts and actions who formed a subgroup of those classified as schizophrenic, were significantly less likely to make error corrections in the absence of visual feedback. This result is consistent with our previous suggestion (Frith, 1987) that these symptoms are a consequence of problems with the central monitoring of responses.

Corresponding author
1Address for correspondence: Dr C. D. Frith, Division of Psychiatry, Clinical Research Centre, Watford Road, Harrow, Middlesex HA1 3UJ.
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D. L. Braff , I. Calloway & J. Naylor (1977). Very short-term memory dysfunction in schizophrenia. Archives of General Psychiatry 34, 2530.

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C. D. Frith & D. J. Done (1988). Towards a neuropsychology of schizophrenia. British Journal of Psychiatry 153, 437443.

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J. D. Megaw (1972). Directional errors and their correction in a discrete tracking task. Ergonomics 15, 633643.

P. M. A. Rabbitt (1966). Error-correction time without external signals. Nature 212, 438.

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