Research Projects
The influence of emotion-behaviour decoupling on clinical and functional outcomes in patients with schizophrenia

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☑ MPhil/PhD ☒ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS

Anhedonia and avolition are core negative symptoms of schizophrenia. Recent theories and empirical evidence suggest that schizophrenia patients demonstrate defective translation of emotional salience into motivated behaviour. This ‘emotion-behaviour decoupling’ operates together with other mechanisms, such as impaired cost-benefit computation and reinforcement learning, to generate negative symptoms. Emotion-behaviour decoupling has been found in patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and genetic and behavioural high-risk populations. Although emotion-behaviour decoupling offers a promising theoretical framework to understand negative symptoms, previous research did not investigate its relationship with functional outcomes, nor employ ‘state-of-the-art’ negative symptom scales, and were cross-sectional in design. Moreover, how emotion-behaviour decoupling manifests in different schizophrenia subtypes remains unclear. To address the knowledge gap, we investigate the influence of emotion-behaviour decoupling on negative psychopathology and functional outcomes, using longitudinal design and refined symptom and functional assessments. This project aimed to unveil the long-term and short-term effects of emotion-behaviour decoupling on clinical and functional outcomes in schizophrenia patients, and to advance the theoretical understandings of negative symptoms.

Professor SSY Lui , Department of Psychiatry

Professor Simon Lui is a clinician-scientist specializing in psychosis. His research interests include clinical studies in psychosis, schizotypy, cognitive markers and endophenotype, and prospection.  

HKU Scholars Hub

For more information or to express interest for this project, please email the supervisor or the specified contact point in the project description.  Interested candidates are advised to enclose with your email:

  1. your CV,
  2. a brief description of your research interest and experience, and
  3. two reference letters (not required for HKUMed UG students seeking MRes[Med]/URIS projects).

Information on the research programme, funding support and admission documentations could be referenced online at the Research Postgraduate Admissions website. General admission enquiries should be directed to

HKUMed MBBS students interested in the Master of Research in Medicine (MRes[Med]) programme may visit the programme website for more information.  

HKUMed UG students interested in the Undergraduate Research Internship Scheme (URIS) may visit the scheme’s website for more information.