Reward sensitivity in depression: A biobehavioral study

Stewart A Shankman*, Daniel N. Klein, Craig E. Tenke, Gerard E. Bruder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


The approach-withdrawal model posits 2 neural systems of motivation and emotion and hypothesizes that these systems are responsible for individual differences in emotional reactivity, or affective styles. The model also proposes that depression is characterized by a deficit in reward-seeking behavior (i.e., approach motivation) and is associated with a relative decrease in left frontal brain activity. The authors tested aspects of this model by comparing the electroencephalogram alpha power of depressed and nondepressed individuals during a task that manipulated approach motivation. The study found that control participants and individuals with late-onset depression exhibited the hypothesized increase in left frontal activity during the approach task but individuals with early-onset depression did not. This suggests that early-onset depression may be associated with a deficit in the hypothesized approach motivation system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-104
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2007


  • Approach motivation
  • EEG asymmetry
  • Early-onset depression
  • Left frontal brain activity
  • Personality
  • Reward sensitivity
  • Reward-seeking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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