Reward and Punishment Sensitvity in Depression
Lamont, Anna Dissertation 2013.docx (333.0Kb)
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Background: People suffering from depression have been demonstrated to be hypersensitive to punishing or negative stimuli and hyposensitive to rewarding or positive stimuli. This may be related to alterations in the neural circuitry underlying reward and punishment, and may contribute to the onset and maintenance of depressive symptoms. The present study is concerned with how reward and punishment sensitivity may affect decision-making in depression, and whether this is related to trait characteristics. Method: 44 dysphoric participants and 36 non-dysphoric participants completed the Iowa Gambling Task, as well as self- report measures of BIS/BAS activation, Neuroticism, positive and negative affect and task motivation. Results: There was a non-significant trend for dysphoric participants with mild and moderate symptoms to perform better on the IGT than controls and for dysphoric participants with severe symptoms to perform worse. Performance was associated with BAS-Reward -with high BAS-Reward in controls being associated with better performance and lower BAS-Reward in dysphoric participants being associated with better performance. In dysphoric participants this relationship was independent of affect. Conclusions: This trend is consistent with the hypothesis that depressed participants will perform better on the IGT that controls due to reward hyposensitivity and punishment hypersensitivity. In dysphoric participants, performance seemed to be related to a stable trait characteristic, which is consistent with theories that altered reward and punishment processing represents a vulnerability to depression.