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Blunted reward responsiveness in remitted depression

Authors
Journal
Journal of Psychiatric Research
0022-3956
Publisher
Elsevier
Volume
47
Issue
12
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2013.08.011
Keywords
  • Reward
  • Positive Reinforcement
  • Major Depressive Disorder
Disciplines
  • Economics

Abstract

Abstract Major depressive disorder has been associated with blunted responsiveness to rewards, but inconsistencies exist whether such abnormalities persist after complete remission. To address this issue, across two independent studies, 47 adults with remitted major depressive disorder (rMDD) and 37 healthy controls completed a Probabilistic Reward Task, which used a differential reinforcement schedule of social or monetary feedback to examine reward responsiveness (i.e., ability to modulate behavior as a function of reinforcement history). Relative to controls, adults with rMDD showed blunted reward responsiveness. Importantly, a history of depression predicted reduced reward learning above and beyond residual depressive (including anhedonic) symptoms and perceived stress. Findings indicate that blunted reward responsiveness endures even when adults are in remission and might be a trait-related abnormality in MDD. More research is warranted to investigate if blunted reward responsiveness may predict future depressive episodes and whether targeting reward-related deficits may prevent the re-occurrence of the disorder.

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