Neural signal during immediate reward anticipation in schizophrenia: Relationship to real-world motivation and function

Karuna Subramaniam, Christine I. Hooker, Bruno Biagianti, Melissa Fisher, Srikantan Nagarajan, Sophia Vinogradov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Amotivation in schizophrenia is a central predictor of poor functioning, and is thought to occur due to deficits in anticipating future rewards, suggesting that impairments in anticipating pleasure can contribute to functional disability in schizophrenia. In healthy comparison (HC) participants, reward anticipation is associated with activity in frontal-striatal networks. By contrast, schizophrenia (SZ) participants show hypoactivation within these frontal-striatal networks during this motivated anticipatory brain state. Here, we examined neural activation in SZ and HC participants during the anticipatory phase of stimuli that predicted immediate upcoming reward and punishment, and during the feedback/outcome phase, in relation to trait measures of hedonic pleasure and real-world functional capacity. SZ patients showed hypoactivation in ventral striatum during reward anticipation. Additionally, we found distinct differences between HC and SZ groups in their association between reward-related immediate anticipatory neural activity and their reported experience of pleasure. HC participants recruited reward-related regions in striatum that significantly correlated with subjective consummatory pleasure, while SZ patients revealed activation in attention-related regions, such as the IPL, which correlated with consummatory pleasure and functional capacity. These findings may suggest that SZ patients activate compensatory attention processes during anticipation of immediate upcoming rewards, which likely contribute to their functional capacity in daily life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-163
Number of pages11
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health grants R01MH82818-01A2 , T32MH89920-5 and K01MH105615 . We thank Daniel H. Mathalon, Todd Thompson, Michael M. Merzenich, Judith Ford, Patrick Slattery, Aditi Shastri, Coleman Garrett, Hong Yin, Benjamin Brandrett, Lisa Howard and Abby Rowlands for their assistance and input on this project.


  • Motivation
  • Punishment
  • Reward
  • Schizophrenia
  • fMRI


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