Background: It is well known that individuals with schizophrenia have dopaminergic abnormalities as well as memory-related difficulties, both of which are associated with impulsive decision making. We used a delay discounting measure to test the degree to which patients make future-oriented decisions.
Methods: 42 patients with schizophrenia and 29 healthy participants completed a delay discounting measure along with tests of cognitive function and, in patients, symptom ratings.
Results: Patients discounted more steeply than did comparison participants. Discounting among patients related to memory capacity and tended to relate inversely to negative symptoms.
Conclusions: The impulsive decision making evidenced by patients suggests that they may be prone to choosing immediate over long-term rewards, even when their interests are better served by choosing the latter. Improving cognitive function may enhance their ability to make future-oriented decisions.