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From laboratory to life: associating brain reward processing with real-life motivated behaviour and symptoms of depression in non-help-seeking young adults

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 November 2018

Jindra M. Bakker*
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Maastricht University, Maastricht University Medical Centre, School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Maastricht, The Netherlands Department of Neuroscience, KU Leuven, Center for Contextual Psychiatry, Leuven, Belgium
Liesbet Goossens
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Maastricht University, Maastricht University Medical Centre, School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Maastricht, The Netherlands
Poornima Kumar
Affiliation:
McLean Hospital, Center for Depression, Anxiety and Stress Research, Belmont, MA, USA Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
Iris M. J. Lange
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Maastricht University, Maastricht University Medical Centre, School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Maastricht, The Netherlands
Stijn Michielse
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Maastricht University, Maastricht University Medical Centre, School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Maastricht, The Netherlands
Koen Schruers
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Maastricht University, Maastricht University Medical Centre, School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Maastricht, The Netherlands Department of Psychology, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
Jojanneke A. Bastiaansen
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry (UCP), University of Groningen, University Medical Centre Groningen, Interdisciplinary Center Psychopathology and Emotion regulation (ICPE), Groningen, The Netherlands Friesland Mental Health Care Services, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands
Ritsaert Lieverse
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Maastricht University, Maastricht University Medical Centre, School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Maastricht, The Netherlands
Machteld Marcelis
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Maastricht University, Maastricht University Medical Centre, School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Maastricht, The Netherlands Institute for Mental Health Care Eindhoven (GGzE), Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Thérèse van Amelsvoort
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Maastricht University, Maastricht University Medical Centre, School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Maastricht, The Netherlands
Jim van Os
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Maastricht University, Maastricht University Medical Centre, School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Maastricht, The Netherlands Department of Psychiatry, Utrecht University, University Medical Center, Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, Utrecht, The Netherlands Department of Psychosis Studies, King's College, King's Health Partners, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK
Inez Myin-Germeys
Affiliation:
Department of Neuroscience, KU Leuven, Center for Contextual Psychiatry, Leuven, Belgium
Diego A. Pizzagalli
Affiliation:
McLean Hospital, Center for Depression, Anxiety and Stress Research, Belmont, MA, USA Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
Marieke Wichers
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry (UCP), University of Groningen, University Medical Centre Groningen, Interdisciplinary Center Psychopathology and Emotion regulation (ICPE), Groningen, The Netherlands
*
Author for correspondence: Jindra M. Bakker, E-mail: jindra.bakker@maastrichtuniversity.nl

Abstract

Background

Depression has been associated with abnormalities in neural underpinnings of Reward Learning (RL). However, inconsistencies have emerged, possibly owing to medication effects. Additionally, it remains unclear how neural RL signals relate to real-life behaviour. The current study, therefore, examined neural RL signals in young, mildly to moderately depressed – but non-help-seeking and unmedicated – individuals and how these signals are associated with depressive symptoms and real-life motivated behaviour.

Methods

Individuals with symptoms along the depression continuum (n = 87) were recruited from the community. They performed an RL task during functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and were assessed with the Experience Sampling Method (ESM), completing short questionnaires on emotions and behaviours up to 10 times/day for 15 days. Q-learning model-derived Reward Prediction Errors (RPEs) were examined in striatal areas, and subsequently associated with depressive symptoms and an ESM measure capturing (non-linearly) how anticipation of reward experience corresponds to actual reward experience later on.

Results

Significant RPE signals were found in the striatum, insula, amygdala, hippocampus, frontal and occipital cortices. Region-of-interest analyses revealed a significant association between RPE signals and (a) self-reported depressive symptoms in the right nucleus accumbens (b = −0.017, p = 0.006) and putamen (b = −0.013, p = .012); and (b) the quadratic ESM variable in the left (b = 0.010, p = .010) and right (b = 0.026, p = 0.011) nucleus accumbens and right putamen (b = 0.047, p < 0.001).

Conclusions

Striatal RPE signals are disrupted along the depression continuum. Moreover, they are associated with reward-related behaviour in real-life, suggesting that real-life coupling of reward anticipation and engagement in rewarding activities might be a relevant target of psychological therapies for depression.

Type
Original Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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Footnotes

*

These authors contributed equally to this work.

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