Victory is its own reward

Oxytocin increases costly competitive behavior in schizophrenia

Ellen R. Bradley, Johanna Brustkern, Lize De Coster, Wouter Van Den Bos, Samuel McClure, Alison Seitz, Joshua D. Woolley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

BackgroundAberrant sensitivity to social reward may be an important contributor to abnormal social behavior that is a core feature of schizophrenia. The neuropeptide oxytocin impacts the salience of social information across species, but its effect on social reward in schizophrenia is unknown.MethodsWe used a competitive economic game and computational modeling to examine behavioral dynamics and oxytocin effects on sensitivity to social reward among 39 men with schizophrenia and 54 matched healthy controls. In a randomized, double-blind study, participants received one dose of oxytocin (40 IU) or placebo and completed a 35-trial Auction Game that quantifies preferences for monetary v. social reward. We analyzed bidding behavior using multilevel linear mixed models and reinforcement learning models.ResultsBidding was motivated by preferences for both monetary and social reward in both groups, but bidding dynamics differed: Patients initially overbid less compared to controls, and across trials, controls decreased their bids while patients did not. Oxytocin administration was associated with sustained overbidding across trials, particularly in patients. This drug effect was driven by a stronger preference for winning the auction, regardless of monetary consequences. Learning rate and response variability did not differ between groups or drug condition, suggesting that differences in bidding derive primarily from differences in the subjective value of social rewards.ConclusionsOur findings suggest that schizophrenia is associated with diminished motivation for social reward that may be increased by oxytocin administration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychological Medicine
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

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Competitive Behavior
Oxytocin
Reward
Schizophrenia
Learning
Social Behavior
Neuropeptides
Double-Blind Method
Pharmaceutical Preparations
Motivation
Linear Models
Placebos
Economics

Keywords

  • Auctions
  • computational modeling
  • decision-making
  • oxytocin
  • psychosis
  • reinforcement learning
  • reward
  • schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

Victory is its own reward : Oxytocin increases costly competitive behavior in schizophrenia. / Bradley, Ellen R.; Brustkern, Johanna; De Coster, Lize; Van Den Bos, Wouter; McClure, Samuel; Seitz, Alison; Woolley, Joshua D.

In: Psychological Medicine, 01.01.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Bradley, Ellen R. ; Brustkern, Johanna ; De Coster, Lize ; Van Den Bos, Wouter ; McClure, Samuel ; Seitz, Alison ; Woolley, Joshua D. / Victory is its own reward : Oxytocin increases costly competitive behavior in schizophrenia. In: Psychological Medicine. 2019.
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