A new way to look at schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, Sofiya Yusina, UG '22 (3946755)
My research offered a new way to look at schizophrenia-spectrum disorders. Abnormalities in the latent-cause inference process may be underlying schizotypy and schizophrenia-spectrum disorders. Latent-cause inference theory explains how humans make sense of their environment. In brief, the theory suggests that there is a latent, or hidden, cause that underlies both the stimulus and reinforcement. Schizotypy is having schizophrenia-like traits but still being within the neurotypical range. Schizotypy is also considered a vulnerability to developing schizophrenia. The connection between schizotypy and latent-cause inference was the motivation to pursue this research. We hypothesized that participants with higher schizotypy scores would generate too many latent causes AND wider (over-generalized) latent causes. In other words, people who are more vulnerable to develop schizophrenia would be more likely to have a fractured and incoherent interpretation of the causal relationships between events. We used a computational model that quantified latent-cause inference, allowing us to objectively compare participants. The results showed that participants with higher schizotypy scores had significantly higher alpha and higher sigma 1 values. These values indicated that high scorers generate more latent causes and wider latent causes. Thus, the results supported the hypothesis! The ideas suggested by my research have exciting clinical implications. Schizophrenia is notoriously hard to treat, but maybe developing psychotherapy that targets latent-cause inference is the breakthrough the medical field needs to obtain better outcomes in schizophrenia treatment.