Selected executive skills in adolescents with recent first episode major depression

Developmental Psychiatry Section, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, UK.
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 6.46). 10/2005; 46(9):995-1005. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2004.00400.x
Source: PubMed


To investigate whether recent first episode major depression in adolescence is characterised by selected executive difficulties in attentional flexibility, behavioural inhibition and decision-making.
Selected executive functions were compared in adolescents with recent (past year) first episode major depression (n = 30) and community controls (n = 49). Three computerised tests within the CANTAB battery were completed by all subjects (the Intra-Dimensional, Extra-Dimensional Set-Shifting task, the Affective Go, No-Go task, and the Decision-Making task).
Compared with controls, recently depressed cases displayed a bias towards negative stimuli with fewer errors on sad words as well as being more accurate in their responses to sad targets on the Affective Go, No-Go task. Cases also made faster decisions in the context of betting more of their available points compared to controls, as indexed by the Decision-Making task. These results were not influenced by age, gender, IQ, recent mood, severity of depression, medication or comorbidity.
Adolescents with recent first episode major depression show greater attention towards sad stimuli and more impulsive behaviour when making decisions. They were able to switch attentional set to neutral stimuli. This study demonstrates that computerised tests for measuring executive functions can be successfully deployed in adolescents, and suggests that specific patterns of neuropsychological functions may be relatively compromised in first episode major depression. These, together with their underlying neural substrates, deserve further investigation within this age range.

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    • "Thus, results from the adult literature on the neural bases of auditory selective attention cannot be generalized to youth suffering from MD without confirmatory developmental approaches. Second, a number of neuropsychological studies have shown that behavioral performance in a range of attentional tasks, including tasks of selective attention, is intact in youth with MD, at least when neutral (as opposed to emotional) stimuli are presented (Gunther et al., 2004; Kyte et al., 2005; but see, e.g., Han et al., 2012). This stands in contrast to the data provided by the majority of neuropsychological studies conducted with depressed adults in this research field (Austin et al., 2001; Porter et al., 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Background Major depression (MD) is associated with deficits in selective attention. Previous studies in adults with MD using event-related potentials (ERPs) reported abnormalities in the neurophysiological correlates of auditory selective attention. However, it is yet unclear whether these findings can be generalized to MD in adolescence. Thus, the aim of the present ERP study was to explore the neural mechanisms of auditory selective attention in adolescents with MD. Methods 24 male and female unmedicated adolescents with MD and 21 control subjects were included in the study. ERPs were collected during an auditory oddball paradigm. Results Depressive adolescents tended to show a longer N100 latency to target and non-target tones. Moreover, MD subjects showed a prolonged latency of the P200 component to targets. Across groups, longer P200 latency was associated with a decreased tendency of disinhibited behavior as assessed by a behavioral questionnaire. Limitations To be able to draw more precise conclusions about differences between the neural bases of selective attention in adolescents vs. adults with MD, future studies should include both age groups and apply the same experimental setting across all subjects. Conclusions The study provides strong support for abnormalities in the neurophysiolgical bases of selective attention in adolecents with MD at early stages of auditory information processing. Absent group differences in later ERP components reflecting voluntary attentional processes stand in contrast to results reported in adults with MD and may suggest that adolescents with MD possess mechanisms to compensate for abnormalities in the early stages of selective attention.
    Journal of Affective Disorders 02/2015; 172:445-452. DOI:10.1016/j.jad.2014.10.022 · 3.38 Impact Factor
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    • "Although these studies have found evidence of affective bias, they do not precisely mirror those reported in adult studies. Kyte et al. (2005) compared the performance of healthy controls to that of adolescents with a first onset of depression in the past year. Recently depressed adolescents made more commission errors during blocks with happy targets, suggesting they were less able to inhibit responses to sad distractors. "
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    ABSTRACT: Affective bias is a common feature of depressive disorder. However, a lack of longitudinal studies means that the temporal relationship between affective bias and depression is not well understood. One group where studies of affective bias may be particularly warranted is the adolescent offspring of depressed parents, given observations of high rates of depression and a severe and impairing course of disorder in this group. A two wave panel design was used in which adolescent offspring of parents with recurrent depression completed a behavioural task assessing affective bias (The Affective Go/No Go Task) and a psychiatric interview. The affective processing of adolescents with current, prior and future depressive disorder was compared to that of adolescents free from disorder. Adolescents with current depression and those who developed depression at follow-up made more commission errors for sad than happy targets compared to adolescents free from disorder. There was no effect of prior depression on later affective processing. Small cell sizes meant we were unable to separately compare those with new onset and recurrent depressive disorder. Valence-specific errors in behavioural inhibition index future vulnerability to depression in adolescents already at increased risk and may represent a measure of affective control. Currently depressed adolescents show a similar pattern of affective bias or deficits in affective control. Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Journal of Affective Disorders 11/2014; 174C:265-271. DOI:10.1016/j.jad.2014.11.046 · 3.38 Impact Factor
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    • "There is also substantial evidence that early selfregulatory skills are predictive of children's successful adjustment in the longer term, as higher levels of regulation have been linked with positive developmental outcomes including greater self-esteem, professional attainment, and better health in later childhood and adolescence (Moffitt et al. 2011; Shoda et al. 1990). Conversely , poor self-regulation has been associated with a host of negative outcomes including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), school failure, addiction/ substance abuse, and anxiety and depression (Diamond 2005; Hester and Garavan 2004; Ivanov et al. 2008; Kyte et al. 2005; Moffitt et al. 2011). Thus, there has been increasing interest in intervention and prevention strategies targeting self-regulation during early childhood when children are acquiring these foundational skills (Blair 2002; Higgins and Spiegel 2004). "

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