Effort deficits and depression: The influence of anhedonic depressive symptoms on cardiac autonomic activity during a mental challenge

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Roger E. Beaty (Creator)
Kari Eddington (Creator)
Thomas R. Kwapil, Associate Professor (Creator)
Paul Silvia, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: Motivational approaches to depression emphasize the role of dysfunctional motivational dynamics, particularly diminished reward and incentive processes associated with anhedonia. A study examined how anhedonic depressive symptoms, measured continuously across a wide range of severity, influenced the physiological mobilization of effort during a cognitive task. Using motivational intensity theory as a guide, we expected that the diminished incentive value associated with anhedonic depressive symptoms would reduce effort during a “do your best” challenge (also known as an unfixed or self-paced challenge), in which effort is a function of the value of achieving the task’s goal. Using impedance cardiography, two cardiac autonomic responses were assessed: pre-ejection period (PEP), a measure of sympathetic activity and our primary measure of interest, and respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), a measure of parasympathetic activity. As expected, PEP slowed from baseline to task as anhedonic depressive symptoms increased (as measured with the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale), indicating diminished effort-related sympathetic activity. No significant effects appeared for RSA. The findings support motivational intensity theory as a translational model of effort processes in depression and clarify some inconsistent effects of depressive symptoms on effort-related physiology found in past work.

Additional Information

Motivation and Emotion, 38(6), 779-789
Language: English
Date: 2014
Effort, Depression, Anhedonia, Motivational intensity, Autonomic nervous system, Impedance cardiography

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