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Approach and withdrawal motivation in schizophrenia: an examination of frontal brain asymmetric activity.

  • Author(s): Horan, William P
  • Wynn, Jonathan K
  • Mathis, Ian
  • Miller, Gregory A
  • Green, Michael F
  • et al.
Abstract

Although motivational disturbances are common in schizophrenia, their neurophysiological and psychological basis is poorly understood. This electroencephalography (EEG) study examined the well-established motivational direction model of asymmetric frontal brain activity in schizophrenia. According to this model, relative left frontal activity in the resting EEG reflects enhanced approach motivation tendencies, whereas relative right frontal activity reflects enhanced withdrawal motivation tendencies. Twenty-five schizophrenia outpatients and 25 healthy controls completed resting EEG assessments of frontal asymmetry in the alpha frequency band (8-12 Hz), as well as a self-report measure of behavioral activation and inhibition system (BIS/BAS) sensitivity. Patients showed an atypical pattern of differences from controls. On the EEG measure patients failed to show the left lateralized activity that was present in controls, suggesting diminished approach motivation. On the self-report measure, patients reported higher BIS sensitivity than controls, which is typically interpreted as heightened withdrawal motivation. EEG asymmetry scores did not significantly correlate with BIS/BAS scores or with clinical symptom ratings among patients. The overall pattern suggests a motivational disturbance in schizophrenia characterized by elements of both diminished approach and elevated withdrawal tendencies.

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