Individuals with schizophrenia demonstrated impaired goal-directed planning and action in the context of a simulated everyday errands task, both in terms of reduced capacity to complete errands and reduced efficiency in doing so, a recent study found. Researchers investigated goal-directed planning and action in schizophrenia using a virtual reality task, the Multitasking in the City Test (MCT). The test was administered to 49 outpatients with schizophrenia and 55 healthy controls, and required participants to complete a series of errands in a virtual city. Ability to complete the task as directed was assessed by a performance score based on errands completed and errors committed. Task efficiency was evaluated by the total distance traveled, and an index of path efficiency comparing an optimal route with the traversed route. They found:
- Participants with schizophrenia had lower performance scores, traveled farther, and had reduced path efficiency compared to healthy controls.
- Greater distance traveled and lower path efficiency in schizophrenia were related to amotivation.
- Path efficiency in schizophrenia was also related to neurocognition, including planning ability; notably, this relationship appeared to be independent of the relationship with amotivation.
Siddiqui I, Saperia S, Fervaha G, et al. Goal-directed planning and action impairments in schizophrenia evaluated in a virtual environment. [Published online ahead of print November 22, 2018]. Schizophr Res. doi:10.1016/j.schres.2018.10.012.