Individual negative symptoms and domains - Relevance for assessment, pathomechanisms and treatment

Schizophr Res. 2017 Aug:186:39-45. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2016.07.013. Epub 2016 Jul 21.


The negative symptoms of schizophrenia can be divided into two domains. Avolition/apathy includes the individual symptoms of avolition, asociality and anhedonia. Diminished expression includes blunted affect and alogia. Until now, causes and treatment of negative symptoms have remained a major challenge, which is partially related to the focus on negative symptoms as a broad entity. Here, we propose that negative symptoms may become more tractable when the different domains and individual symptoms are taken into account. There is now increasing evidence that the relationship with clinical variables - in particular outcome - differs between the domains of avolition/apathy and diminished expression. Regarding models of negative symptom formation, those relevant to avolition/apathy are now converging on processes underlying goal-directed behavior and dysfunctions of the reward system. In contrast, models of the diminished expression domains are only beginning to emerge. The aim of this article is to review the specific clinical, behavioral and neural correlates of individual symptoms and domains as a better understanding of these areas may facilitate specific treatment approaches.

Keywords: Amotivation; Apathy; Avolition; Blunted affect; Diminished expression; Negative symptoms.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anhedonia*
  • Apathy*
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Mood Disorders / etiology*
  • Psychometrics
  • Schizophrenia* / complications
  • Schizophrenia* / therapy
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*