Retinal functioning and reward processing in schizophrenia

Docia L. Demmin, Jasmine Mote, Danielle M. Beaudette, Judy L. Thompson, Steven M. Silverstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Retinal responses to light, as measured by electroretinography (ERG), have been shown to be reduced in schizophrenia. Data from a prior ERG study in healthy humans indicated that activity of a retinal cell type affected in schizophrenia can be modified by the presence of a food reward. Therefore, we aimed to determine whether ERG amplitudes would be sensitive to the well-documented reward processing impairment in schizophrenia. Flash ERG data from 15 clinically stable people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and 15 healthy controls were collected under three conditions: baseline, anticipation of a food reward, and immediately after consuming the food reward. At the group level, data indicated that controls' ERG responses varied as a function of salience of the food reward (baseline vs. anticipation vs. consumption) whereas patients' ERG responses did not vary significantly across conditions. Correlations between ERG amplitudes and scores on measures of hedonic capacity (including motivation and pleasure negative symptom ratings for patients) indicated consistent relationships. These data suggest that flash ERG amplitudes may be a sensitive indicator of the integrity of reward processing mechanisms. However, several differences in the direction of findings between this and a prior study in controls point to the need for further investigation of the contributions of a number of key variables to the observed effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSchizophrenia Research
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


  • ERG
  • Electroretinography
  • Retina
  • Reward processing
  • Reward sensitivity
  • Schizophrenia

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