Effort-based decision making and motivational deficits in stroke patients.
Erfanian Abdoust M., Knecht S., Husain M., Le Heron C., Jocham G., Studer B.
Motivational deficits in patients recovering from stroke are common and can reduce active participation in rehabilitation and thereby impede functional recovery. We investigated whether stroke patients with clinically reduced drive, initiation, and endurance during functional rehabilitative training (n = 30) display systematic alterations in effort-based decision making compared to age, sex, and severity-matched stroke patients (n = 30) whose drive appeared unaffected. Notably, the two groups did not differ in self-reported ratings of apathy and depression. However, on an effort-based decision-making task, stroke patients with clinically apparent drive impairment showed intact willingness to accept effort for reward, but were more likely to fail to execute the required effort compared to patients without apparent drive impairments. In other words, the decision behavioural assessment revealed that stroke patients that displayed reduced drive, initiation, and endurance during inpatient neurorehabilitation failed to persist in goal-directed effort production, even over very short periods. These findings indicate that reduced drive during rehabilitative therapy in post-stroke patients is not due to a diminished motivation to invest physical effort, but instead is related to a reduced persistence with effortful behaviour.