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Social and non-social reward learning reduced and related to a familial vulnerability in schizophrenia spectrum disorders.

Hanssen, E., Krabbendam, L., Robberegt, S. & Fett, A-K. ORCID: 0000-0003-0282-273X (2019). Social and non-social reward learning reduced and related to a familial vulnerability in schizophrenia spectrum disorders.. Schizophrenia Research, 215, pp. 256-262. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2019.10.019


Patients with a disorder in the schizophrenia spectrum (SZ) demonstrate impairments in reward learning. A reduced sensitivity to social reward may impede social beyond non-social reward learning mechanisms. The aim of the current study was to investigate social and non-social reward learning in SZ by means of two interactive game-theoretical investment paradigms. Unaffected first-degree relatives of patients were included to examine whether (social) reward-learning impairments are part of a familial vulnerability of SZ. We included 50 patients with a SZ disorder, 20 unaffected first-degree relatives of patients and 49 healthy controls. The trust game (social) and the lottery game (non-social) were used, consisting of 20 game trials each. The game paradigms were programmed to increase the likelihood of higher repayments in response to increased investments. Multilevel regression analyses were used to examine learning over trials in both contexts. The results showed that controls learned equally well in social and non-social contexts, as reflected in an increase of investments over game rounds in both paradigms. In contrast, patients and relatives showed reduced reward learning, regardless of its social or non-social nature, reflected by flatter or decreasing slopes over game rounds in both paradigms. The findings suggest that patients and relatives have a general reduced sensitivity to reward, which appears to reflect a familial vulnerability rather than illness related mechanisms. Results indicate that reward learning may be an important marker for the familial risk to SZ.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2019 Elsevier B.V. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Social reward, Reward learning, Schizophrenia spectrum, Disorder, Familial risk, Psychosis
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of SchizRes_paper.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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