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Investigating subtypes of reward processing deficits as trait markers for depression

Frey, A.-L., Malinowska, L., Harley, K., Salhi, L., Sharma, S. and McCabe, C. (2015) Investigating subtypes of reward processing deficits as trait markers for depression. Translational Developmental Psychiatry, 3. 27517. ISSN 2001-7022

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3402/tdp.v3.27517


Background: Anhedonia, the loss of pleasure in usually enjoyable activities, is a central feature of major depressive disorder (MDD). The aim of the present study was to examine whether young people at a familial risk of depression display signs of anticipatory, motivational or consummatory anhedonia, which would indicate that these deficits may be trait markers for MDD. Methods: The study was completed by 22 participants with a family history of depression (FH+) and 21 controls (HC). Anticipatory anhedonia was assessed by asking participants to rate their anticipated liking of pleasant and unpleasant foods which they imagined tasting when cued with images of the foods. Motivational anhedonia was measured by requiring participants to perform key presses to obtain pleasant chocolate taste rewards or to avoid unpleasant apple tastes. Additionally, physical consummatory anhedonia was examined by instructing participants to rate the pleasantness of the acquired tastes. Moreover, social consummatory anhedonia was investigated by asking participants to make preference-based choices between neutral facial expressions, genuine smiles, and polite smiles. Results: It was found that the FH+ group’s anticipated liking of unpleasant foods was significantly lower than that of the control group. By contrast, no group differences in the pleasantness ratings of the actually experienced tastes or in the amount of performed key presses were observed. However, controls preferred genuine smiles over neutral expressions more often than they preferred polite smiles over neutral expressions, while this pattern was not seen in the FH+ group. Conclusion: These findings suggest that FH+ individuals demonstrate an altered anticipatory response to negative stimuli and show signs of social consummatory anhedonia, which may be trait markers for depression.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
ID Code:46337
Uncontrolled Keywords:reward; aversion; behaviour; consummatory anhedonia; motivational anhedonia; social anhedonia; anticipatory anhedonia; trait marker; food; depression
Publisher:Co action Publishing


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