A review of reward processing and motivational impairment in schizophrenia

Schizophr Bull. 2014 Mar;40 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):S107-16. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbt197. Epub 2013 Dec 27.


This article reviews and synthesizes research on reward processing in schizophrenia, which has begun to provide important insights into the cognitive and neural mechanisms associated with motivational impairments. Aberrant cortical-striatal interactions may be involved with multiple reward processing abnormalities, including: (1) dopamine-mediated basal ganglia systems that support reinforcement learning and the ability to predict cues that lead to rewarding outcomes; (2) orbitofrontal cortex-driven deficits in generating, updating, and maintaining value representations; (3) aberrant effort-value computations, which may be mediated by disrupted anterior cingulate cortex and midbrain dopamine functioning; and (4) altered activation of the prefrontal cortex, which is important for generating exploratory behaviors in environments where reward outcomes are uncertain. It will be important for psychosocial interventions targeting negative symptoms to account for abnormalities in each of these reward processes, which may also have important interactions; suggestions for novel behavioral intervention strategies that make use of external cues, reinforcers, and mobile technology are discussed.

Keywords: anhedonia; avolition; motivation; negative symptoms; psychosis; reward.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Motivation / physiology*
  • Reward*
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*