Schizophrenia is a severe psychiatric disorder characterized by important cognitive deficits, which ultimately compromise the patients' ability to make optimal decisions. Unfortunately, the neurobiological bases of impaired reward-related decision-making in schizophrenia have rarely been studied. The objective of this study is to examine the neural mechanisms involved in reward-related decision-making in schizophrenia, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Forty-seven schizophrenia patients (DSM-IV criteria) and 23 healthy subjects with no psychiatric disorders were scanned using fMRI while performing the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART). A rapid event-related fMRI paradigm was used, separating decision and outcome events. Between-group differences in grey matter volumes were assessed with voxel-based morphometry. During the reward outcomes, increased activations were observed in schizophrenia in the left anterior insula, the putamen, and frontal sub-regions. Reduced grey matter volumes were observed in the left anterior insula in schizophrenia which spatially overlapped with functional alterations. Finally, schizophrenia patients made fewer gains on the BART. The fact that schizophrenia patients had increased activations in sub-cortical regions such as the striatum and insula in response to reward events suggests that the impaired decision-making abilities of these patients are mostly driven by an overvaluation of outcome stimuli.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Psychiatry and Mental health