Temporal discounting of rewards in patients with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia

Ahn, W.-Y., Rass, O., Fridberg, D. F., Bishara, A. J., Forsyth, J. K., Breier, A., Busemeyer, J. R., Hetrick, W. P., Bolbecker, A. R., & O’Donnell, B. F. 2011. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 120(4), 911-921.


Patients with bipolar disorder (BD) and schizophrenia (SZ) often show decision-making deficits in everyday circumstances. A failure to appropriately weigh immediate versus future consequences of choices may contribute to these deficits. We used the delay discounting task in individuals with BD or SZ to investigate their temporal decision making. Twenty-two individuals with BD, 21 individuals with SZ, and 30 healthy individuals completed the delay discounting task along with neuropsychological measures of working memory and cognitive function. Both BD and SZ groups discounted delayed rewards more steeply than did the healthy group even after controlling for current substance use, age, gender, and employment. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses showed that discounting rate was associated with both diagnostic group and working memory or intelligence scores. In each group, working memory or intelligence scores negatively correlated with discounting rate. The results suggest that (a) both BD and SZ groups value smaller, immediate rewards more than larger, delayed rewards compared with the healthy group and (b) working memory or intelligence is related to temporal decision making in individuals with BD or SZ as well as in healthy individuals.