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The value of novelty in schizophrenia

Martinelli, C., Rigoli, F. ORCID: 0000-0003-2233-934X, Averbeck, B. & Shergill, S. (2018). The value of novelty in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research, 192, pp. 287-293. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2017.05.007


Influential models of schizophrenia suggest that patients experience incoming stimuli as excessively novel and motivating, with important consequences for hallucinatory experience and delusional belief. However, whether schizophrenia patients exhibit excessive novelty value and whether this interferes with adaptive behaviour has not yet been formally tested. Here, we employed a three-armed bandit task to investigate this hypothesis. Schizophrenia patients and healthy controls were first familiarised with a group of images and then asked to repeatedly choose between familiar and unfamiliar images associated with different monetary reward probabilities. By fitting a reinforcement-learning model we were able to estimate the values attributed to familiar and unfamiliar images when first presented in the context of the decision-making task. In line with our hypothesis, we found increased preference for newly introduced images (irrespective of whether these were familiar or unfamiliar) in patients compared to healthy controls and this to correlate with severity of hallucinatory experience. In addition, we found a correlation between value assigned to novel images and task performance, suggesting that excessive novelty value may interfere with optimal learning in patients, putatively through the disruption of the mechanisms regulating exploration versus exploitation. Our results suggest excessive novelty value in patients, whereby even previously seen stimuli acquire higher value as the result of their exposure in a novel context – a form of ‘hyper novelty’ which may explain why patients are often attracted by familiar stimuli experienced as new.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2017 Elsevier. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Schizophrenia, Aberrant salience, Decision-making, Novelty, Psychosis, Novelty-seeking
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
[thumbnail of nihms955027.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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