Negative symptoms in schizophrenia are conceptualised as loading onto two factors: amotivation and diminished expression, which relate to different behavioural and neural markers. This distinction has proven useful for understanding the cognitive, motivational and neural mechanisms involved in negative symptoms, and for the development of treatments. Recently, it has been advocated that an even finer distinction into five subdomains is needed to understand the mechanisms underlying negative symptoms, and to prevent masking specific treatment and intervention effects. However, it is currently unclear whether such a fine-grained approach offers additional insights grounded in theory. In the present work, we focused on the factor amotivation, which has been shown to selectively correlate with the propensity to discount rewards in the face of effort and with the activity in the ventral striatum during reward anticipation. In a reanalysis of these studies we explored whether subdomains of amotivation - avolition, asociality, anhedonia - showed preferential correlation with these previously identified behavioural and neural markers. We show that for both behavioural and neural markers, a fine-grained model with the three subdomains did not better explain the data than a model with the amotivation factor only. Moreover, none of the three subdomains correlated significantly more or less with the behavioural or neural markers. Thus, no additional information was gained on amotivation in schizophrenia by selectively looking at its three subdomains. Consequently, the two-factor solution currently remains a valid option for the study of negative symptoms and further research is needed for behavioural and neural validation of the five-factor model.
Keywords: Amotivation; Effort-based decision making; Negative symptoms; Reward anticipation; Schizophrenia; Two-factor solution.
Copyright © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.