Reinforcement learning abnormalities in the attenuated psychosis syndrome and first episode psychosis

Academic Article


  • Prior studies indicate that chronic schizophrenia (SZ) is associated with a specific profile of reinforcement learning abnormalities. These impairments are characterized by: 1) reductions in learning rate, and 2) impaired Go learning and intact NoGo learning. Furthermore, each of these deficits are associated with greater severity of negative symptoms, consistent with theoretical perspectives positing that avolition and anhedonia are associated with impaired value representation. However, it is unclear whether these deficits extend to earlier phases of psychotic illness and when individuals are unmedicated. Two studies were conducted to examine reinforcement learning deficits in earlier phases of psychosis and in high risk patients. In study 1, participants included 35 participants with first episode psychosis (FEP) with limited antipsychotic medication exposure and 25 healthy controls (HC). Study 2 included 17 antipsychotic na├»ve individuals who were at clinical high-risk for psychosis (CHR) (i.e., attenuated psychosis syndrome) and 18 matched healthy controls (HC). In both studies, participants completed the Temporal Utility Integration Task, a measure of probabilistic reinforcement learning that contained Go and NoGo learning blocks. FEP displayed impaired Go and NoGo learning. In contrast, CHR did not display impairments in Go or NoGo learning. Impaired Go learning was not significantly associated with clinical outcomes in the CHR or FEP samples. Findings provide new evidence for areas of spared and impaired reinforcement learning in early phases of psychosis.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Strauss GP; Datta R; Armstrong W; Raugh IM; Kraguljac NV; Lahti AC
  • Start Page

  • 11
  • End Page

  • 19
  • Volume

  • 47