Aberrant computational mechanisms of social learning and decision-making in schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder
- Journal Article
Rights / licenseCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
Author summary People suffering from psychiatric disorders frequently experience difficulties in social interaction, such as an impaired ability to use social signals to build representations of others and use these to guide behavior. Compuational models of learning and decision-making enable the characterization of individual patterns in learning and decision-making mechanisms that may be disorder-specific or disorder-general. We employed this approach to investigate the behavior of healthy participants and patients diagnosed with depression, schizophrenia, and borderline personality disorder while they performed a probabilistic reward learning task which included a social component. Patients with schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder performed more poorly on the task than controls and depressed patients. In addition, patients with BPD concentrated their learning efforts more on the social compared to the non-social information. Computational modeling additionally revealed that borderline personality disorder patients showed a reduced flexibility in the weighting of newly obtained social and non-social information when learning about their predictive values. Instead, we found exagerrated learning of the volatility of social and non-social information. Additionally, we found a pattern shared between patients with borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia who both showed an over-reliance on predictions about social information during decision-making. Our modeling, therefore, provides a computational account of the exaggerated need to make sense of and rely on one's interpretation of others' behavior, which is prominent in both disorders. Psychiatric disorders are ubiquitously characterized by debilitating social impairments. These difficulties are thought to emerge from aberrant social inference. In order to elucidate the underlying computational mechanisms, patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder (N = 29), schizophrenia (N = 31), and borderline personality disorder (N = 31) as well as healthy controls (N = 34) performed a probabilistic reward learning task in which participants could learn from social and nonsocial information. Patients with schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder performed more poorly on the task than healthy controls and patients with major depressive disorder. Broken down by domain, borderline personality disorder patients performed better in the social compared to the non-social domain. In contrast, controls and MDD patients showed the opposite pattern and SCZ patients showed no difference between domains. In effect, borderline personality disorder patients gave up a possible overall performance advantage by concentrating their learning in the social at the expense of the non-social domain. We used computational modeling to assess learning and decision-making parameters estimated for each participant from their behavior. This enabled additional insights into the underlying learning and decision-making mechanisms. Patients with borderline personality disorder showed slower learning from social and non-social information and an exaggerated sensitivity to changes in environmental volatility, both in the non-social and the social domain, but more so in the latter. Regarding decision-making the modeling revealed that compared to controls and major depression patients, patients with borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia showed a stronger reliance on social relative to non-social information when making choices. Depressed patients did not differ significantly from controls in this respect. Overall, our results are consistent with the notion of a general interpersonal hypersensitivity in borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia based on a shared computational mechanism characterized by an over-reliance on beliefs about others in making decisions and by an exaggerated need to make sense of others during learning specifically in borderline personality disorder. Show more
Journal / seriesPLoS Computational Biology
Pages / Article No.
PublisherPublic Library of Science
Organisational unit03955 - Stephan, Klaas E. / Stephan, Klaas E.
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