Impaired Activation in Cognitive Control Regions Predicts Reversal Learning in Schizophrenia

Published on Mar 1, 2016in Schizophrenia Bulletin7.958
· DOI :10.1093/SCHBUL/SBV075
Adam J. Culbreth13
Estimated H-index: 13
(WashU: Washington University in St. Louis),
James M. Gold102
Estimated H-index: 102
(UMB: University of Maryland, Baltimore)
+ 1 AuthorsM Deanna106
Estimated H-index: 106
(WashU: Washington University in St. Louis)
Reinforcement learning deficits have been associated with schizophrenia (SZ). However, the pathophysiology that gives rise to these abnormalities remains unclear. To address this question, SZ patients (N = 58) and controls (CN; N = 36) completed a probabilistic reversal-learning paradigm during functional magnetic resonance imaging scanning. During the task, participants choose between 2 stimuli. Initially, 1 stimulus was frequently rewarded (80%); the other was infrequently rewarded (20%). The reward contingencies reversed periodically because the participant learned the more rewarded stimulus. The results indicated that SZ patients achieved fewer reversals than CN, and demonstrated decreased winstay-loseshift decision-making behavior. On loseshift compared to winstay trials, SZ patients showed reduced Blood Oxygen Level Dependent activation compared to CN in a network of brain regions widely associated with cognitive control, and striatal regions. Importantly, relationships between group membership and behavior were mediated by alterations in the activity of cognitive control regions, but not striatum. These findings indicate an important role for the cognitive control network in mediating the use and updating of value representations in SZ. Such results provide biological targets for further inquiry because researchers attempt to better characterize decision-making neural circuitry in SZ as a means to discover new pathways for interventions.
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