Amotivation is a common phenotype of major depressive disorder and schizophrenia, which are clinically distinct disorders. Effective treatment targets and strategies can be discovered by examining the dopaminergic reward network function underlying amotivation between these disorders. We conducted an fMRI study in healthy human participants and medicated patients with depression and schizophrenia using an effort-based reinforcement task. We examined regional activations related to reward type (positive and negative reinforcement), effort level, and their composite value, as well as resting-state functional connectivities within the meso–striatal–prefrontal pathway. We found that integrated reward and effort values of low effort-positive reinforcement and high effort-negative reinforcement were behaviorally anticipated and represented in the putamen and medial orbitofrontal cortex activities. Patients with schizophrenia and depression did not show anticipation-related and work-related reaction time reductions, respectively. Greater amotivation severity correlated with smaller work-related putamen activity changes according to reward type in schizophrenia and effort level in depression. Patients with schizophrenia showed feedback-related putamen hyperactivity of low effort compared with healthy controls and depressed patients. The strength of medial orbitofrontal-striatal functional connectivity predicted work-related reaction time reduction of high effort negative reinforcement in healthy controls and amotivation severity in both patients with schizophrenia and those with depression. Patients with depression showed deficient medial orbitofrontal-striatal functional connectivity compared with healthy controls and patients with schizophrenia. These results indicate that amotivation in depression and schizophrenia involves different pathophysiology in the prefrontal-striatal circuitry.
SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Amotivation is present in both depression and schizophrenia. However, treatment involves the use of drugs that enhance serotonin activity in depression and inhibit serotonin and dopamine activity in schizophrenia. Understanding how motivation processed in the mesocorticolimbic and nigostriatal pathways is affected in depression and schizophrenia is important in discovering treatment targets and strategies for amotivation. To our knowledge, this is the first study to compare patients with depression and schizophrenia in a common functional construct. By using an effort-based reinforcement task and examining resting-state functional connectivity in the dopaminergic network, we propose that difference in striato–orbitofrontal dysfunction in effort-based reinforcement between depression and schizophrenia may be related to differences in the extent of functional dysconnectivity in the dopaminergic pathway.