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Reduced reward-related probability learning in schizophrenia patients

Authors Yilmaz A , Şimşek, Gonul AS

Received 17 September 2011

Accepted for publication 4 November 2011

Published 5 January 2012 Volume 2012:8 Pages 27—34


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Alpaslan Yilmaz1,2, Fatma Simsek2, Ali Saffet Gonul2,3
1Department of Sport and Health, Physical Education and Sports College, Erciyes University, Kayseri, Turkey; 2Department of Psychiatry, SoCAT Lab, Ege University School of Medicine, Bornova, Izmir, Turkey; 3Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Mercer University School of Medicine, Macon, GA, USA

Abstract: Although it is known that individuals with schizophrenia demonstrate marked impairment in reinforcement learning, the details of this impairment are not known. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that reward-related probability learning is altered in schizophrenia patients. Twenty-five clinically stable schizophrenia patients and 25 age- and gender-matched controls participated in the study. A simple gambling paradigm was used in which five different cues were associated with different reward probabilities (50%, 67%, and 100%). Participants were asked to make their best guess about the reward probability of each cue. Compared with controls, patients had significant impairment in learning contingencies on the basis of reward-related feedback. The correlation analyses revealed that the impairment of patients partially correlated with the severity of negative symptoms as measured on the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale but that it was not related to antipsychotic dose. In conclusion, the present study showed that the schizophrenia patients had impaired reward-based learning and that this was independent from their medication status.

Keywords: reinforcement learning, reward, punishment, motivation

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