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Stressful life events moderate the effect of neural reward responsiveness in childhood on depressive symptoms in adolescence.

Authors
  • Goldstein, Brandon L1
  • Kessel, Ellen M1
  • Kujawa, Autumn2
  • Finsaas, Megan C1
  • Davila, Joanne1
  • Hajcak, Greg3
  • Klein, Daniel N1
  • 1 Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, USA.
  • 2 Department of Psychology and Human Development, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA.
  • 3 Department of Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Psychological Medicine
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Publication Date
Jul 01, 2020
Volume
50
Issue
9
Pages
1548–1555
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1017/S0033291719001557
PMID: 31274066
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Reward processing deficits have been implicated in the etiology of depression. A blunted reward positivity (RewP), an event-related potential elicited by feedback to monetary gain relative to loss, predicts new onsets and increases in depression symptoms. Etiological models of depression also highlight stressful life events. However, no studies have examined whether stressful life events moderate the effect of the RewP on subsequent depression symptoms. We examined this question during the key developmental transition from childhood to adolescence. A community sample of 369 children (mean age of 9) completed a self-report measure of depression symptoms. The RewP to winning v. losing was elicited using a monetary reward task. Three years later, we assessed stressful life events occurring in the year prior to the follow-up. Youth depressive symptoms were rated by the children and their parents at baseline and follow-up. Stressful life events moderated the effect of the RewP on depression symptoms at follow-up such that a blunted RewP predicted higher depression symptoms in individuals with higher levels of stressful life events. This effect was also evident when events that were independent of the youth's behavior were examined separately. These results suggest that the RewP reflects a vulnerability for depression that is activated by stress.

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