Affective personality predictors of disrupted reward learning and pursuit in major depressive disorder

Sophie R. DelDonno, Anne L. Weldon, Natania A. Crane, Alessandra M. Passarotti, Patrick J. Pruitt, Laura B. Gabriel, Wendy Yau, Kortni K. Meyers, David T. Hsu, Stephen F. Taylor, Mary M. Heitzeg, Ellen Herbener, Stewart A Shankman, Brian J. Mickey, Jon Kar Zubieta, Scott A. Langenecker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Anhedonia, the diminished anticipation and pursuit of reward, is a core symptom of major depressive disorder (MDD). Trait behavioral activation (BA), as a proxy for anhedonia, and behavioral inhibition (BI) may moderate the relationship between MDD and reward-seeking. The present studies probed for reward learning deficits, potentially due to aberrant BA and/or BI, in active or remitted MDD individuals compared to healthy controls (HC). Active MDD (Study 1) and remitted MDD (Study 2) participants completed the modified monetary incentive delay task (mMIDT), a behavioral reward-seeking task whose response window parameters were individually titrated to theoretically elicit equivalent accuracy between groups. Participants completed the BI Scale and BA Reward-Responsiveness and Drive Scales. Despite individual titration, active MDD participants won significantly less money than HCs. Higher Reward-Responsiveness scores predicted more won; Drive and BI were not predictive. Remitted MDD participants' performance did not differ from controls', and trait BA and BI measures did not predict r-MDD performance. These results suggest that diminished reward-responsiveness may contribute to decreased motivation and reward pursuit during active MDD, but that reward learning is intact in remission. Understanding individual reward processing deficits in MDD may inform personalized intervention addressing anhedonia and motivation deficits in select MDD patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9152
Pages (from-to)56-64
Number of pages9
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 30 2015


  • Behavioral activation
  • Behavioral inhibition
  • Depression
  • Remitted MDD
  • Reward processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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