OBJECTIVES: A critical review of the literature was undertaken with articles assessing neuropsychological deficits in decision making (DM) in schizophrenic patients. METHODS: This review included all articles that performed neuropsychological assessments with tests sensitive to cortical areas associated with DM, especially the orbitofrontal cortex dysfunction. Methodological aspects of the selected studies were compared, as well as the correlation between measures in DM tasks with clinical, cognitive and functional characteristics of the samples. RESULTS: Eight articles between 1997 and 2005 were selected. With regard to the instrument used to assess DM, six used the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), one used the Novel Decision Making Task (NDMT) and one used the Two Choice Prediction Task (TCPT). All the studies compared schizophrenic patients to healthy controls. In four articles using the IGT and the others using either the NDMT or the TCPT, schizophrenic patients showed low performance in DM tasks. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: Current studies are inconclusive in assessing DM deficits in schizophrenia. Clinical characteristics such as diagnostic subtype, predominant symptoms, type of medication and psychosocial functioning can account for the results found. Further studies are required to better investigate the nature of DM deficits in schizophrenia and their relevance to clinical presentation and illness course.
Schizophrenia; decision making; neuropsychology; prefrontal cortex