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Schizophr Bull. 2010 Sep;36(5):919-34. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbq068. Epub 2010 Jun 21.

Goal representations and motivational drive in schizophrenia: the role of prefrontal-striatal interactions.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Washington University, Box 1125, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA.


The past several years have seen a resurgence of interest in understanding the psychological and neural bases of what are often referred to as "negative symptoms" in schizophrenia. These aspects of schizophrenia include constructs such as asociality, avolition (a reduction in the motivation to initiate or persist in goal-directed behavior), and anhedonia (a reduction in the ability to experience pleasure). We believe that these dimensions of impairment in individuals with schizophrenia reflect difficulties using internal representations of emotional experiences, previous rewards, and motivational goals to drive current and future behavior in a way that would allow them to obtain desired outcomes, a deficit that has major clinical significance in terms of functional capacity. In this article, we review the major components of the systems that link experienced and anticipated rewards with motivated behavior that could potentially be impaired in schizophrenia. We conclude that the existing evidence suggests relatively intact hedonics in schizophrenia, but impairments in some aspects of reinforcement learning, reward prediction, and prediction error processing, consistent with an impairment in "wanting." As of yet, there is only indirect evidence of impairment in anterior cingulate and orbital frontal function that may support value and effort computations. However, there are intriguing hints that individuals with schizophrenia may not be able to use reward information to modulate cognitive control and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex function, suggesting a potentially important role for cortical-striatal interactions in mediating impairment in motivated and goal-directed behavior in schizophrenia.

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