Neural and peripheral markers of reward during positive social evaluation are associated with less clinician-rated depression symptom severity in adolescence

Zach J. Gray, Grant S. Shields, Stassja Sichko, Theresa Q. Bui, Meghan Vinograd, Hector A. Olvera-Alvarez, George M. Slavich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Although blunted sensitivity to reward is thought to play a key role in promoting risk for depression, most research on this topic has utilized monetary reward paradigms and focused on currently depressed adults. To address this issue, we analyzed neural reward and β-endorphin data from the Psychobiology of Stress and Adolescent Depression (PSY SAD) Study, which recruited a well-characterized sample of adolescent girls at high vs. low risk for major depressive disorder (MDD) (N = 52, Mage = 14.90, SD = 1.35) based on their mothers’ lifetime history of MDD. As hypothesized, greater striatal activity while receiving positive (vs. neutral) social evaluation was associated with lower depression symptom severity as independently assessed by the Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia (K-SADS). This association was present for girls at high but not low risk for MDD, suggesting that this neural response may represent a pre-clinical marker of risk for depression. Consistent with these results, higher post-social evaluation levels of a peripheral marker of reward sensitivity, β-endorphin, were related to lower clinician-rated depression symptom severity. Together, these results indicate that neural and peripheral markers of responsivity to social reward are both related to depression severity, which may have implications for understanding the pathophysiology of depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100149
JournalComprehensive Psychoneuroendocrinology
Volume11
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2022

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Depression
  • Reward sensitivity
  • Social evaluation
  • Striatum
  • β-endorphin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Immunology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems

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