Dopaminergic modulation of the reward system in schizophrenia: A placebo-controlled dopamine depletion fMRI study

da Silva Alves, Fabiana; Bakker, Geor; Schmitz, Nicole; Abeling, Nico; Hasler, Gregor; van der Meer, Johan; Nederveen, Aart; de Haan, Lieuwe; Linszen, Don; van Amelsvoort, Therese (2013). Dopaminergic modulation of the reward system in schizophrenia: A placebo-controlled dopamine depletion fMRI study. European neuropsychopharmacology, 23(11), pp. 1577-1586. Elsevier 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2013.06.008

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The brain reward circuitry innervated by dopamine is critically disturbed in schizophrenia. This study aims to investigate the role of dopamine-related brain activity during prediction of monetary reward and loss in first episode schizophrenia patients.


We measured blood–oxygen-level dependent (BOLD) activity in 10 patients with schizophrenia (SCH) and 12 healthy controls during dopamine depletion with α-methylparatyrosine (AMPT) and during a placebo condition (PLA).


AMPT reduced the activation of striatal and cortical brain regions in SCH. In SCH vs. controls reduced activation was found in the AMPT condition in several regions during anticipation of reward and loss, including areas of the striatum and frontal cortex. In SCH vs. controls reduced activation of the superior temporal gyrus and posterior cingulate was observed in PLA during anticipation of rewarding stimuli. PLA patients had reduced activation in the ventral striatum, frontal and cingulate cortex in anticipation of loss. The findings of reduced dopamine-related brain activity during AMPT were verified by reduced levels of dopamine in urine, homovanillic-acid in plasma and increased prolactin levels.


Our results indicate that dopamine depletion affects functioning of the cortico-striatal reward circuitry in SCH. The findings also suggest that neuronal functions associated with dopamine neurotransmission and attribution of salience to reward predicting stimuli are altered in schizophrenia.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy > Healthcare Research

UniBE Contributor:

Hasler, Gregor


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Daniela Zurkinden

Date Deposited:

10 Apr 2014 10:32

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:32

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:



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