Disturbances of motivational balance in chronic schizophrenia during decision-making tasks


Correspondence: Jaeseung Jeong, PhD, Brain Dynamics Laboratory, Department of Bio and Brain Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Daejeon 305-701, Korea. Email: jsjeong@kaist.ac.kr



The role of feedback processing in decision-making has been assessed in psychiatric patients using the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). Although impaired performance on the IGT has been documented extensively in schizophrenia patients, the neuropsychological mechanisms underlying the performance deficits have not yet been elucidated. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the neuropsychological origins of impaired decision-making in schizophrenia patients using various versions of the IGT.


Thirty chronic schizophrenia patients and 33 healthy subjects underwent computerized versions of the IGT, the Variant Gambling Task (VGT), and the Shuffled Gambling Task (SGT) to assess the contributions of motivational balance and reversal learning on IGT performance. In addition, performance on the Wisconsin Card-Sorting Test (WCST) was assessed.


The schizophrenia patients exhibited deficits on the IGT and SGT, particularly in later trials. No significant group difference was detected on the VGT due to the improved performance of schizophrenia patients in the earlier trials. Performance on the gambling tasks in the schizophrenia group did not correlate with performance on the WCST or with the severity of clinical symptoms.


Deficits in motivational balance, but not reversal learning, play a dominant role in the impaired decision-making of patients with schizophrenia.