Attenuated prefrontal activation during decision-making under uncertainty in schizophrenia: a multi-center fMRI study

A. Krug, M. Cabanis, M. Pyka, K. Pauly, T. Kellermann, H. Walter, M. Wagner, M. Landsberg, N. J. Shah, G. Winterer, W. Wölwer, J. Brinkmeyer, B. W. Müller, C. Kärgel, G. Wiedemann, J. Herrlich, K. Vogeley, L. Schilbach, A. Rapp, S. KlingbergT. Kircher

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Decisions are called decisions under uncertainty when either prior information is incomplete or the outcomes of the decision are unclear. Alterations in these processes related to decisions under uncertainty have been linked to delusions. In patients with schizophrenia, the underlying neural networks have only rarely been studied. We aimed to disentangle the neural correlates of decision-making and relate them to neuropsychological and psychopathological parameters in a large sample of patients with schizophrenia and healthy subjects.Fifty-seven patients and fifty-seven healthy volunteers from six centers had to either indicate via button-press from which of two bottles red or blue balls were drawn (decision-making under uncertainty condition), or indicate whether eight red balls had been presented (baseline condition) while BOLD signal was measured with fMRI.Patients based their decisions on less conclusive evidence and had decreased activations in the underlying neural network, comprising of medial and lateral frontal as well as parietal areas, as compared to healthy subjects. While current psychopathology was not correlated with brain activation, positive symptoms led to longer decision latencies in patients.These results suggest that decision-making under uncertainty in schizophrenia is affected by a complex interplay of aberrant neural activation. Furthermore, reduced neuropsychological functioning in patients was related to impaired decision-making and task performance was modulated by distinct positive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-183
Number of pages8
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Decision making
  • FMRI
  • Jumping to conclusions
  • Psychopathology
  • Schizophrenia

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