Deakin University

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The Nature of Mental Imagery and its Relationship with Amotivational Psychopathology in People with Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders

journal contribution
posted on 2024-05-09, 03:54 authored by M Pillny, David HallfordDavid Hallford, K Böge
Many people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSDs) experience profound amotivation, which is strongly related to anticipatory anhedonia. Yet, the neuropsychological fundamentals of anticipatory anhedonia and amotivation are barely understood, resulting in a lack of effective treatments for these patients. Aberrancies in positive mental imagery may interfere with the anticipation of pleasure and could thus explain anticipatory anhedonia and amotivation. However, the nature of mental imagery and its relationship with amotivational psychopathology in SSD is largely unknown. In this preregistered study, we therefore examined mental imagery characteristics and their relation to anticipatory anhedonia, amotivation, and daily life activity in SSD. The N = 86 participants included individuals with SSD (n = 43) and demographically matched healthy controls (n = 43). Mental imagery, anticipatory pleasure, amotivation, and activity engagement were assessed with structured interviews and self-report questionnaires. Ecological momentary assessment was used to measure state anticipatory pleasure and activity engagement in daily life (n = 81). Compared to the control group, the SSD group showed comparable quantity, but less vividness of mental imagery. Reduced vividness of mental imagery in SSD was significantly associated with higher anticipatory anhedonia, amotivation, and low activity engagement in cross-sectional and prospective analyses. Reduced mental imagery vividness may cause a lack of internal incentive to seek pleasurable experiences and could explain amotivation. Interventions aiming to improve mental imagery vividness and related anticipatory pleasure responses in SSD may be effective in targeting amotivation.



Behavior Therapy




Amsterdam, The Netherlands







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal