Schizophrenia and risk-taking: Impaired reward but preserved punishment processing

Gordon L. F. CHENG, Joey C. Y. TANG, Frendi W. S. LI, Esther Yuet Ying LAU, Tatia M. C. LEE

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Risky decision-making is subserved by the frontostriatal system, which includes a network of interconnected brain regions known to be dysfunctional in patients with schizophrenia. This study aimed to investigate whether and to what extent patients with schizophrenia display a different pattern of risk-taking behavior relative to matched healthy controls. The Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART) and the Risky-Gains Task were used as naturalistic measures of risk-taking behavior in 25 patients with schizophrenia and 25 controls. Results of the BART revealed that patients behaved more conservatively, and this in turn led to suboptimal risky decision-making. Consistently, patients behaved more conservatively in the Risky-Gains Task. Interestingly, however, they adjusted the pattern of risk-taking following a punished trial similar to controls. These findings indicate that patients have impaired reward but preserved punishment processing. This study complements previous studies on decision-making in schizophrenia and suggests specific rather than widespread abnormalities along the frontostriatal system in schizophrenia. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-127
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


Cheng, G. L. F., Tang, J. C. Y., Li, F. W. S., Lau, E. Y. Y., & Lee, T. M. C. (2012). Schizophrenia and risk-taking: Impaired reward but preserved punishment processing. Schizophrenia Research, 136(1-3), 122-127. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2012.01.002


  • Balloon Analogue Risk Task
  • Risky-Gains Task
  • Psychosis
  • Frontostriatal system


Dive into the research topics of 'Schizophrenia and risk-taking: Impaired reward but preserved punishment processing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.