Master’s student publishes paper in prestigious psychology journal
Eye tracking technology utilized to examine schizophrenic symptoms and emotion-attention interactions

 

Seon-Kyeong Jang (first author) and Prof. Kee-Hong

▲ Seon-Kyeong Jang (first author) and Prof. Kee-Hong Choi (corresponding author)

 

 

Seon-Kyeong Jang, a master’s student majoring in psychology at Korea University, utilized eye tracking technology to investigate the attention to emotional expressions among persons suffering from schizophrenia.


The results were published in the online version of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology on August 17 and will be in the print edition this fall.

Jang managed this remarkable achievement while enrolled as a master’s student in the Department of Psychology.


Schizophrenia has long been associated with emotional impairments and reduced social participation. Extensive research has been conducted to treat such negative symptoms, but the underlying mechanisms are yet to be revealed.


In a joint research project with Prof. Chai-Youn Kim of Korea University, Jang made use of eye tracking technology for a more direct measurement of the allocation of attention to emotions. Persons with schizophrenia paid attention to emotional faces in the initial stage, but were more inclined to avoid negative emotions in the late stage. In other words, they pay attention to emotional salience but are more likely to avoid rather than confront negative stimuli. This characteristic is related to depressive symptoms.


Professor Choi, who participated in the study as corresponding author, said, “This enhanced understanding of attention and memory in schizophrenia will contribute to the development of effective social rehabilitation training. In addition to revealing how persons with schizophrenia react to emotional stimuli, the eye tracking indicator can be used to predict vulnerabilities, response to therapy, and long-term everyday functioning.”