In addition to the hallucinations that often characterize schizophrenia, patients also have major problems with apathy and lack of motivation. The dopamine hypothesis argues that unusual behaviour associated with schizophrenia can largely be explained by variations in the dopamine function of the brain.
Exploring a possible link between dopamine activity and the lack of motivation could be key to developing new approaches to helping such patients cope with life.
In a study funded by the National Institute of Health Research, Dr Graham Murray of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge and colleagues studied 18 patients presenting with first-episode psychotic symptoms. They compared the patients' performance against 19 healthy participants in a computerised test of motivated behaviour.
The participants took part in a reaction time test, assigning a reward to each trial. In the control group, almost all individuals reacted faster if the potential reward for completing the task was higher. This well documented phenomenon was observed in less than a quarter of the first-episode psychosis group, suggesting an abnormality in the processing of incentives for their actions. Eleven of these participants were taking atypical antipsychotic medications, which are sometimes thought to be responsible for ‘demotivating’ patients. However, this study found that these medications had no significant effect on the results.
In the past, some critics have suggested that patients’ motivational problems are simply secondary to long-term treatment effects, or institutionalisation, but because the researchers studied young adults at the very early stages of their illness, they could rule out this possibility. "Patients with psychosis already have motivational deficits the first time they present to health services." said Dr Murray. ”Understanding the brain basis of these problems will ultimately help in developing new treatments.”
The next step in demonstrating a link between lack of motivation and the brain's biochemical reward system will be to investigate whether self-motivation can be safely stimulated in patients with psychoses using medication, including drugs that trigger the release of dopamine but which do not worsen their other symptoms.
Amputees can learn to control a robotic arm with their minds
28.11.2017 | University of Chicago Medical Center
The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
14.12.2017 | Health and Medicine
14.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
14.12.2017 | Life Sciences