The Neural Underpinnings of Associative Learning in Health and Psychosis: How Can Performance Be Preserved When Brain Responses Are Abnormal?

Brain Mapping Unit, University of Cambridge, Box 189, Cambridge CB2 0QQ, UK.
Schizophrenia Bulletin (Impact Factor: 8.61). 02/2010; 36(3):465-71. DOI: 10.1093/schbul/sbq005
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Associative learning experiments in schizophrenia and other psychoses reveal subtle abnormalities in patients' brain responses. These are sometimes accompanied by intact task performance. An important question arises: How can learning occur if the brain system is not functioning normally? Here, we examine a series of possible explanations for this apparent discrepancy: (1) standard brain activation patterns may be present in psychosis but partially obscured by greater noise, (2) brain signals may be more sensitive to real group differences than behavioral measures, and (3) patients may achieve comparable levels of performance to control subjects by employing alternative or compensatory neural strategies. We consider these explanations in relation to data from causal- and reward-learning imaging experiments in first-episode psychosis patients. The findings suggest that a combination of these factors may resolve the question of why performance is sometimes preserved when brain patterns are disrupted.


Available from: Philip Corlett, Dec 27, 2013
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