Intact striatal dopaminergic modulation of reward learning and daily-life reward-oriented behavior in first-degree relatives of individuals with psychotic disorder

Zuzana Kasanova*, Jenny Ceccarini, Michael J. Frank, Therese van Amelsvoort, Jan Booij, Esther van Duin, Henrietta Steinhart, Thomas Vaessen, Alexander Heinzel, Felix Mottaghy, Inez Myin-Germeys

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Web of Science)


BackgroundAbnormalities in reward learning in psychotic disorders have been proposed to be linked to dysregulated subcortical dopaminergic (DA) neurotransmission, which in turn is a suspected mechanism for predisposition to psychosis. We therefore explored the striatal dopaminergic modulation of reward processing and its behavioral correlates in individuals at familial risk for psychosis.MethodsWe performed a DA D-2/3 receptor [F-18]fallypride positron emission tomography scan during a probabilistic reinforcement learning task in 16 healthy first-degree relatives of patients with psychosis and 16 healthy volunteers, followed by a 6-day ecological momentary assessment study capturing reward-oriented behavior in the everyday life.ResultsWe detected significant reward-induced DA release in bilateral caudate, putamen and ventral striatum of both groups, with no group differences in its magnitude nor spatial extent. In both groups alike, greater extent of reward-induced DA release in all regions of interest was associated with better performance in the task, as well as in greater tendency to be engaged in reward-oriented behavior in the daily life.ConclusionsThese findings suggest intact striatal dopaminergic modulation of reinforcement learning and reward-oriented behavior in individuals with familial predisposition to psychosis. Furthermore, this study points towards a key link between striatal reward-related DA release and pursuit of ecologically relevant rewards.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1909-1914
Number of pages6
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • PET
  • dopamine
  • first-degree relatives
  • psychotic disorder
  • reward
  • EMA
  • TASK

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