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Imagining the future: degraded representations of future rewards and events in schizophrenia.

Authors
  • Heerey, Erin A1
  • Matveeva, Tatyana M
  • Gold, James M
  • 1 Bangor University, School of Psychology, Brigantia Building, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2AS, United Kingdom. [email protected] , (United Kingdom)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Abnormal Psychology
Publisher
American Psychological Association
Publication Date
May 01, 2011
Volume
120
Issue
2
Pages
483–489
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1037/a0021810
PMID: 21171727
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Over the course of life, most people work toward temporally distant rewards such as university degrees or work-related promotions. In contrast, many people with schizophrenia show deficits in behavior oriented toward long-term rewards, although they function adequately when rewards are more immediately present. Moreover, when asked about possible future events, individuals with schizophrenia show foreshortened future time perspectives relative to healthy individuals. Here, we take the view that these deficits are related and can be explained by cognitive deficits. We compared the performance of participants with schizophrenia (n = 39) and healthy participants (n = 25) on tasks measuring reward discounting and future event representations. Consistent with previous research, we found that relative to healthy participants, those with schizophrenia discounted the value of future rewards more steeply. Furthermore, when asked about future events, their responses were biased toward events in the near future, relative to healthy participants' responses. Although discounting and future representations were unrelated in healthy participants, we found significant correlations across the tasks among participants with schizophrenia, as well as correlations with cognitive variables and symptoms. Further analysis showed that statistically controlling working memory eliminated group differences in task performance. Together these results suggest that the motivational deficits characteristic of schizophrenia relate to cognitive deficits affecting the ability to represent and/or evaluate distant outcomes, a finding with important implications for promoting recovery from schizophrenia.

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