Article

Acute Stress Reduces Reward Responsiveness: Implications for Depression

Department of Psychology, Harvard University, 33 Kirkland Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
Biological Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 10.25). 12/2006; 60(10):1147-54. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2006.03.037
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Stress, one of the strongest risk factors for depression, has been linked to "anhedonic" behavior and dysfunctional reward-related neural circuitry in preclinical models.
To test if acute stress reduces reward responsiveness (i.e., the ability to modulate behavior as a function of past reward), a signal-detection task coupled with a differential reinforcement schedule was utilized. Eighty female participants completed the task under both a stress condition, either threat-of-shock (n = 38) or negative performance feedback (n = 42), and a no-stress condition.
Stress increased negative affect and anxiety. As hypothesized based on preclinical findings, stress, particularly the threat-of-shock condition, impaired reward responsiveness. Regression analyses indicate that self-report measures of anhedonia predicted stress-induced hedonic deficits even after controlling for anxiety symptoms.
These findings indicate that acute stress reduces reward responsiveness, particularly in individuals with anhedonic symptoms. Stress-induced hedonic deficit is a promising candidate mechanism linking stressful experiences to depression.

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    • ") and adults (Bogdan and Pizzagalli, 2006; Pizzagalli et al., 2008) exhibit reward dysfunction, which may be a promising phenotype of depression. Converging evidence from neuroimaging studies characterizing the neuropathology of these reward deficits has highlighted dysfunction within the anterior cingulate cortex (Steele et al., 2007) and striatum (Pizzagalli et al., 2009). "
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