Reduced reward processing involving both monetary and social incentives has been demonstrated in patients with schizophrenia. These kinds of impairments have been specifically manifested in processing forthcoming rewards, i.e., anticipation of pleasure or reward rather than in the consummation (in-the-moment experience) of pleasure or reward. In everyday life, these kinds of impairments will be translated into the phenomenon of “delay discounting” that involves the decrease in subjective value for a reward as the interval of delay increases, with a longer time interval a person has to wait before he or she can receive a higher future reward than a lower time interval. However, it is largely unknown whether similar delay discounting deficit would be exhibited by individuals with schizotypal traits.
To bridge this gap of knowledge, Dr. Raymond CHAN from the Neuropsychology and Applied Cognitive Neuroscience (NACN) Laboratory, CAS Key Laboratory of Mental Health, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Prof. Jin-hong Ding from the Department of Psychology of Capital Normal University have conducted a study to examine the delay discounting in 38 individuals with high schizotypal traits and 35 individuals with low schizotypal traits. In particular, they examined such a phenomenon at the proximal (shorter delayed time interval) and distal (longer delayed time interval) future using three delay discounting tasks under positive, neural and negative affective priming conditions.
They administered the computerized delay discounting task to all the participants. In the task, participants were required to press a key that opted for their choices (e.g., receiving 50 yuan immediately or 100 yuan at 6 time points later, ranging from 1 day up to 180 days). Their results showed that individuals with high schizotypal traits exhibited altered anticipatory reward processing, which was mainly attributed to alterations in representing rewards in the distal (longer time interval) future. These findings extend the alterations in representing reward values from schizophrenia patients to schizotypal individuals. Moreover, diminished anticipatory pleasure in individuals with schizotypy may be due to changes in processing anticipatory rewards in the distal future. Dr. Chan’s team is planning to incorporate neuroscientific measures such as neuroimaging to examine the underling neurobiological mechanism of reward processing in individuals with schizotypy and patients with schizophrenia. These findings will provide important guidelines for appropriate intervention and rehabilitation for patients with schizophrenia and related disorders in the clinical settings.
This study was supported by grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Beijing Municipal Science & Technology Commission Grant, and the CAS key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology.
The paper is now available online from Schizophrenia Research
Cai, X. L., Weigl, M., Liu, B. H., Cheung, E. F. C., Ding, J. H.*, Chan, R. C. K.* (in press). Delay discounting and affective priming in individuals with negative schizotypy. Schizophrenia Research, doi.org/10.1016/j.schres.2018.12.040
Institute of Psychology