The present review article summarizes and expands upon the discussions that were initiated during a meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Treatment Research to Improve Cognition in Schizophrenia (CNTRICS; http://cntrics.ucdavis.edu) meeting. A major goal of the CNTRICS meeting was to identify experimental procedures and measures that can be used in laboratory animals to assess psychological constructs that are related to the psychopathology of schizophrenia. The issues discussed in this review reflect the deliberations of the Motivation Working Group of the CNTRICS meeting, which included most of the authors of this article as well as additional participants. After receiving task nominations from the general research community, this working group was asked to identify experimental procedures in laboratory animals that can assess aspects of reinforcement learning and motivation that may be relevant for research on the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, as well as other disorders characterized by deficits in reinforcement learning and motivation. The tasks described here that assess reinforcement learning are the Autoshaping Task, Probabilistic Reward Learning Tasks, and the Response Bias Probabilistic Reward Task. The tasks described here that assess motivation are Outcome Devaluation and Contingency Degradation Tasks and Effort-Based Tasks. In addition to describing such methods and procedures, the present article provides a working vocabulary for research and theory in this field, as well as an industry perspective about how such tasks may be used in drug discovery. It is hoped that this review can aid investigators who are conducting research in this complex area, promote translational studies by highlighting shared research goals and fostering a common vocabulary across basic and clinical fields, and facilitate the development of medications for the treatment of symptoms mediated by reinforcement learning and motivational deficits.
Keywords: Cognition; Learning; Motivation; Reinforcement; Reward.
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