Money talks: The influence of monetary reinforcement on social cognitive performance in first episode psychosis

Poster A98, Monday, October 8, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Essex Ballroom

Michael Grossman1, Christopher R. Bowie1; 1Queen's University

Social cognition has gained widespread acceptance as a major contributor to functional outcomes in psychotic illness, yet limited research has examined the role of motivation in the context of this model. Cross-sectional research has reported significant associations between domains of social cognition and motivation, with correlations in the moderate range. Motivational difficulties in psychosis may undermine an individual’s ability to put forth adequate effort on tasks of social cognition; however, the directionality of this relationship remains unclear. For the present study, individuals with first-episode psychosis (n=35) and community controls (n=35) were randomized to a reward condition in which they received $0.25 per correct response on the TASIT, a measure of theory of mind (ToM), or a non-reward condition in which they completed the TASIT without any feedback. A mixed-model ANOVA demonstrated a significant Group x Condition interaction, F(1,65)=6.96, p=.01. Post-hoc analyses revealed that community controls showed no difference in their ToM performance across conditions, whereas first-episode patients who received monetary reinforcement displayed clinically and statistically significant improvement in ToM performance relative to those who did not receive monetary reinforcement. Results from this study suggest that social cognitive performance may underrepresent actual ability for patients in the early stages of psychosis. Moreover, ToM performance appears to be directly influenced by performance-contingent incentives, corrective feedback, and/or a combination of these factors. Future research is needed to identify the most salient motivational factor, and further disentangle what is driving performance differences between conditions, which seems to be uniquely observed in first-episode patients.

Topic Area: First Episode Psychosis

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