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Brain Res. 2007 Nov 14;1180:90-100. Epub 2007 Aug 28.

Impaired strategic decision making in schizophrenia.

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Department of Psychology, Seoul National University, San 56-1 Shillim-dong Kwanak-gu, Seoul 151-742, Republic of Korea.


Adaptive decision making in dynamic social settings requires frequent re-evaluation of choice outcomes and revision of strategies. This requires an array of multiple cognitive abilities, such as working memory and response inhibition. Thus, the disruption of such abilities in schizophrenia can have significant implications for social dysfunctions in affected patients. In the present study, 20 schizophrenia patients and 20 control subjects completed two computerized binary decision-making tasks. In the first task, the participants played a competitive zero-sum game against a computer in which the predictable choice behavior was penalized and the optimal strategy was to choose the two targets stochastically. In the second task, the expected payoffs of the two targets were fixed and unaffected by the subject's choices, so the optimal strategy was to choose the target with the higher expected payoff exclusively. The schizophrenia patients earned significantly less money during the first task, even though their overall choice probabilities were not significantly different from the control subjects. This was mostly because patients were impaired in integrating the outcomes of their previous choices appropriately in order to maintain the optimal strategy. During the second task, the choices of patients and control subjects displayed more similar patterns. This study elucidated the specific components in strategic decision making that are impaired in schizophrenia. The deficit, which can be characterized as strategic stiffness, may have implications for the poor social adjustment in schizophrenia patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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