Probability and magnitude evaluation in schizophrenia
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Alterations in reinforcement learning and decision making in schizophrenia have been linked with orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) dysfunction, a region critical for weighing reward magnitude in the calculation of expected value (EV). However, much of this work has used complex tasks that require combined learning and EV calculation. Here we used a simple “Roulette” task that examined the calculation of EV directly through a combination of text and/or pictorial representation of reward probability and magnitude. Forty-four people with schizophrenia and 30 controls were recruited. Patients were less sensitive to adjustments in a parameter combining probability and magnitude into one EV construct. Breaking down the construct into independent contributions of probability and magnitude, we found that negative symptoms were associated with magnitude sensitivity. This is consistent with the hypothesized role of OFC in actively representing magnitude and the notion that negative symptoms may involve a failure to appropriately estimate and use future reward magnitude to guide decision making.
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