Goal-directed planning and action impairments in schizophrenia evaluated in a virtual environment.


:Planning and executing goal-directed behaviours are critical final steps in translating motivation into action. Amotivation is a key feature of schizophrenia, but its impact on goal-directed functioning has not been extensively studied in an objective and ecologically valid manner. To address this, we investigated goal-directed planning and action in schizophrenia using a virtual reality task, the Multitasking in the City Test (MCT). The MCT was administered to 49 outpatients with schizophrenia and 55 healthy controls, and required participants to complete a series of errands in a virtual city. Ability to complete the task as directed was assessed by a performance score based on errands completed and errors committed. Task efficiency was evaluated by the total distance travelled, and an index of path efficiency comparing an optimal route with the traversed route. Schizophrenia participants had lower performance scores, travelled farther, and had reduced path efficiency compared to healthy controls. Greater distance travelled and lower path efficiency in schizophrenia were related to amotivation. Path efficiency in schizophrenia was also related to neurocognition, including planning ability; notably, this relationship appeared to be independent of the relationship with amotivation. Individuals with schizophrenia demonstrated impaired goal-directed planning and action in the context of a simulated everyday errands task, both in terms of reduced capacity to complete errands and reduced efficiency in doing so. The latter may manifest as diminished real-world motivated and functional behaviour in patients with schizophrenia and indicates a specific deficit in the execution of planned behaviour.


Schizophr Res


Schizophrenia research


Siddiqui I,Saperia S,Fervaha G,Da Silva S,Jeffay E,Zakzanis KK,Agid O,Remington G,Foussias G




Has Abstract


2019-04-01 00:00:00












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