Impulsivity and distorted reward valuation is a common symptom in people with both schizophrenia (SZ) and bipolar disorder (BD). Specifically, the manic state of bipolar includes extreme behaviors such as risky sexual activities, substance abuse and overspending, that are exhibited even when a long-range reward for abstaining from such behavior is present. Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine recently conducted a study to determine precisely how the time delay in deliverance of rewards, called delay discounting, related to the impulsive behaviors in people with bipolar and schizophrenia.
The team enlisted 21 participants with schizophrenia, 22 with bipolar and 30 healthy participants for their study. They submitted both working memory (WM) and cognitive tests on the participants using a financial scenario for the reward delay discounting task. The individuals were given a choice between receiving $30 immediately or double that amount in 8 months. To follow that up, the researchers provided the participants with the choice between a much larger sum of money immediately or double the amount at six different future points in time, ranging from 2 weeks to 10 years. The study revealed that the healthy participants had lower discounting rates than those with BD or SZ.
The team said, “In each group, working memory or intelligence scores negatively correlated with discounting rate.” They added, “The results suggest that (a) both BD and SZ groups value smaller, immediate rewards more than larger, delayed rewards compared with the healthy group and (b) working memory or intelligence is related to temporal decision-making in individuals with BD or SZ as well as in healthy individuals.” They believe these findings are relevant to therapeutic interventions and added, “Treatment targeting awareness of long-term outcomes of decisions and working memory- WM/IQ composite improvement might enable patients to make more adaptive decisions for their future and improve their quality of life.”
Ahn, W.-Y., Rass, O., Fridberg, D. J., Bishara, A. J., Forsyth, J. K., Breier, A., Busemeyer, J. R., Hetrick, W. P., Bolbecker, A. R., & O’Donnell, B. F. (2011, August 29). Temporal Discounting of Rewards in Patients With Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0023333
© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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