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Multiple studies have found a reduced reward positivity (RewP) among individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD). Event-related potential studies have also reported blunted neural responses to pleasant pictures in MDD as reflected by the late positive potential (LPP). These deficits have been interpreted broadly in terms of anhedonia and decreased emotional engagement characteristic of depression.
In the current study, a community-based sample of 83 participants with current MDD and 45 healthy individuals performed both a guessing task and a picture viewing paradigm with neutral and pleasant pictures to assess the RewP and the LPP, respectively.
We found that both RewP and LPP to pleasant pictures were reduced in the MDD group; moreover, RewP and LPP were both independent predictors of MDD status. Within the MDD group, a smaller RewP predicted impaired mood reactivity in younger but not older participants. Smaller LPP amplitudes were associated with increased anhedonia severity in the MDD group.
These data replicate and merge separate previous lines of research, and suggest that a blunted RewP and LPP reflect independent neural deficits in MDD – which could be used in conjunction to improve the classification of depression.
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