Motivation and its Relationship to Neurocognition, Social Cognition, and Functional Outcome in Schizophrenia

David E. Gard, Melissa Fisher, Coleman Garrett, Alexander Genevsky, Sophia Vinogradov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


Objective: A burgeoning area of research has focused on motivational deficits in schizophrenia, producing hypotheses about the role that motivation plays in the well-known relationship between neurocognition and functional outcome. However, little work has examined the role of motivation in more complex models of outcome that include social cognition, despite our increased understanding of the critical role of social cognition in community functioning in schizophrenia, and despite new basic science findings on the association between social cognitive and reward processing in neural systems in humans. Using path analysis, we directly contrasted whether motivation 1) causally influences known social cognitive deficits in schizophrenia, leading to poor outcome or 2) mediates the relationship between social cognitive deficits and outcome in this illness. Method: Ninety one patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder completed interview-based measures of motivation and functional outcome as well as standardized measures of neurocognition and social cognition in a cross-sectional design. Results: In line with recent research, motivation appears to mediate the relationship between neurocognition, social cognition and functional outcome. A model with motivation as a causal factor resulted in poor fit indicating that motivation does not appear to precede neurocognition. Conclusions: Findings in the present study indicate that motivation plays a significant and mediating role between neurocognition, social cognition, and functional outcome. Potential psychosocial treatment implications are discussed, especially those that emphasize social cognitive and motivational enhancement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-81
Number of pages8
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by NIMH grant RO1 MH068725-01 and the SFVAMC.


  • Functional outcome
  • Motivation
  • Neurocognition
  • Path analysis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Social cognition

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