BACKGROUND: Abnormal social decision-making is prominent in schizophrenia. Antipsychotic medication often improves interpersonal functioning but this action is poorly understood. Neuroeconomic paradigms are an effective method of investigating social decision-making in psychiatric disorders that can be adapted for use with neuroimaging. Using a neuroeconomic approach, it has been shown that healthy humans reproducibly alter their behavior in different contexts, including exhibiting loss aversion: a higher sensitivity to loss outcomes compared to gains of the same magnitude.
METHODS: Here, using a novel loss aversion task and fMRI, we tested three hypotheses: controls exhibiting normal behavioral loss aversion show changes in brain activity consistent with previous studies on healthy subjects; behavioral loss aversion is significantly reduced in schizophrenia and associated with abnormal activity in the same brain regions activated in controls during loss aversion behavior; and for the patient group alone, there is a significant correlation between increased psychotic symptoms, blunted loss aversion and abnormal brain activity. These hypotheses were tested in patients with schizophrenia and healthy controls using a loss aversion paradigm and fMRI.
RESULTS: The results support the hypotheses, with patients exhibiting significantly blunted behavioral loss aversion compared to controls. Controls showed a robust loss aversion brain activation pattern in the medial temporal lobe, insula and dopaminergic-linked areas, which was blunted in schizophrenia.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results are consistent with blunted loss aversion being a reproducible feature of schizophrenia, likely due to abnormal dopaminergic and medial temporal lobe function, suggesting a route by which antipsychotics could influence interpersonal behavior.
|Number of pages||8|
|Early online date||30 May 2022|
|Publication status||Published - 15 Aug 2022|
- Antipsychotic Agents/pharmacology
- Brain Mapping
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging