Decreased social functioning and high levels of loneliness and social isolation are common in schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD), contributing to reduced quality of life. One key contributor to social impairment is low social motivation, which may stem from aberrant neural processing of socially rewarding or punishing stimuli. To summarize research on the neurobiology of social motivation in SSD, we performed a systematic literature review of neuroimaging studies involving the presentation of social stimuli intended to elicit feelings of reward and/or punishment. Across 11 studies meeting criteria, people with SSD demonstrated weaker modulation of brain activity in regions within a proposed social interaction network, including prefrontal, cingulate, and striatal regions, as well as the amygdala and insula. Firm conclusions regarding neural differences in SSD in these regions, as well as connections within networks, are limited due to conceptual and methodological inconsistencies across the available studies. We conclude by making recommendations for the study of social reward and punishment processing in SSD in future research.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Ltd.