An fMRI investigation of delay discounting in patients with schizophrenia

Academic Article


  • Schizophrenia (SZ) is associated with a reduced ability to set meaningful goals to reach desired outcomes. The delay-discounting (DD) task, in which one chooses between sooner smaller and later larger rewards, has proven useful in revealing executive function and reward deficits in various clinical groups. We used fMRI in patients with SZ and healthy controls (HC) to compare brain activation during performance of a DD task. Prior to the neuroimaging session, we obtained each participant's rate of DD, k, on a DD task and used it to select a version of the DD task for each participant's fMRI session. Because of the importance of comparing fMRI results from groups matched on performance, we used a criterion value of R2 > 0.60 for response consistency on the DD task to analyze fMRI activation to DD task versus control trials from consistent SZ (n = 14) and consistent HC (n = 14). We also compared activation between the groups on contrasts related to trial difficulty. Finally, we contrasted the inconsistent SZ (n = 9) with the consistent HC and consistent SZ; these results should be interpreted with caution because of inconsistent SZ's aberrant performance on the task. Compared with consistent HC, consistent SZ showed reduced activation to DD task versus control trials in executive function and reward areas. In contrast, consistent SZ showed more activation in the precuneus and posterior cingulate, regions of the default mode network (DMN) that are typically deactivated during tasks, and in the insula, a region linked to emotional processing. Furthermore, consistent SZ had abnormal activation of lateral and medial frontal regions in relation to trial difficulty. These results point to disruption of several neural networks during decision making, including the executive, reward, default mode, and emotional networks, and suggest processes that are impaired during decision making in schizophrenia. fMRI in patients with schizophrenia was performed during a delay-discounting task. Patients compared with matched controls showed increased task-related activation in regions of the DMN and reduced activation in regions associated with executive, reward, and emotional networks. © 2013 The Authors. Brain and Behavior published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Brain and Behavior  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Avsar KB; Weller RE; Cox JE; Reid MA; White DM; Lahti AC
  • Start Page

  • 384
  • End Page

  • 401
  • Volume

  • 3
  • Issue

  • 4