Abnormal responses to monetary outcomes in cortex, but not in the basal ganglia, in schizophrenia

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2010 Nov;35(12):2427-39. doi: 10.1038/npp.2010.126. Epub 2010 Aug 18.


Psychosis has been associated with aberrant brain activity concurrent with both the anticipation and integration of monetary outcomes. The extent to which abnormal reward-related neural signals can be observed in chronic, medicated patients with schizophrenia (SZ), however, is not clear. In an fMRI study involving 17 chronic outpatients with SZ and 17 matched controls, we used a monetary incentive delay (MID) task, in which different-colored shapes predicted gains, losses, or neutral outcomes. Subjects needed to respond to a target within a time window in order to receive the indicated gain or avoid the indicated loss. Group differences in blood-oxygen-level-dependent responses to cues and outcomes were assessed through voxel-wise whole-brain analyses and regions-of-interest analyses in the neostriatum and prefrontal cortex (PFC). Significant group by outcome valence interactions were observed in the medial and lateral PFC, lateral temporal cortex, and amygdalae, such that controls, but not patients, showed greater activation for gains, relative to losses. In the striatum, neural activity was modulated by outcome magnitude in both groups. Additionally, we found that ratings of negative symptoms in patients correlated with sensitivity to obtained losses in medial PFC, obtained gains in lateral PFC, and anticipated gains in left ventral striatum. Sensitivity to obtained gains in lateral PFC also correlated with positive symptom scores in patients. Our findings of systematic relationships between clinical symptoms and neural responses to stimuli associated with rewards and punishments offer promise that reward-related neural responses may provide sensitive probes of the effectiveness of treatments for negative symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Basal Ganglia / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Reinforcement, Psychology*
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Self Report