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APA Journal of Abnormal Psychology

Neural reactivity to rewards and losses in offspring of mothers and fathers with histories of depressive and anxiety disorders.Open in a New Window

Depression appears to be characterized by reduced neural reactivity to receipt of reward. Despite evidence of shared etiologies and high rates of comorbidity between depression and anxiety, this abnormality may be relatively specific to depression. However, it is unclear whether children at risk for depression also exhibit abnormal reward responding, and if so, whether risk for anxiety moderates this association. The feedback negativity (FN) is an event-related potential component sensitive to receipt of rewards versus losses that is reduced in depression. Using a large community sample (N = 407) of 9-year-old children who had never experienced a depressive episode, we examined whether histories of depression and anxiety in their parents were associated with the FN following monetary rewards and losses. Results indicated that maternal history of depression was associated with a blunted FN in offspring, but only when there was no maternal history of anxiety. In addition, greater severity of maternal depression was associated with greater blunting of the FN in children. No effects of paternal psychopathology were observed. Results suggest that blunted reactivity to rewards versus losses may be a vulnerability marker that is specific to pure depression, but is not evident when there is also familial risk for anxiety. In addition, these findings suggest that abnormal reward responding is evident as early as middle childhood, several years prior to the sharp increase in the prevalence of depression and rapid changes in neural reward circuitry in adolescence. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Major depression in mothers predicts reduced ventral striatum activation in adolescent female offspring with and without depression.Open in a New Window

Prior research has identified reduced reward-related brain activation as a promising endophenotype for the early identification of adolescents with major depressive disorder (MDD). However, it is unclear whether reduced reward-related brain activation constitutes a true vulnerability for MDD. One way of studying vulnerability is through a high-risk design. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to determine whether reward-related activation of the ventral striatum is reduced in nondepressed daughters of mothers with a history of MDD (high-risk) similarly to currently depressed adolescent girls, compared with healthy controls. By directly comparing groups with a shared risk profile during differing states, we aimed to shed light on the endophenotypic nature of reduced reward processing for adolescent depression. We compared reward-related neural activity through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) between three groups of female biological offspring (N = 52) of mothers with differential MDD status: (a) currently depressed daughters of mothers with a history of MDD (MDD group; n = 14), (b) age- and socioeconomic status (SES)-matched never-depressed daughters of mothers with a history of MDD (high-risk group; n = 19), and (c) age- and SES-matched control daughters of mothers with no past or current psychopathology in either the mother or the daughter (healthy control group; n = 19). For the outcome phase of the reward task, right-sided ventral striatum activation was reduced for both currently depressed and high-risk girls compared with healthy controls. This ventral striatal activity correlated significantly with maternal depression scores. These findings provide further evidence of aberrant functioning for the United States Department of Health & Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Research Domain Criteria (RDoC)-defined domain of positive valence systems as a vulnerability factor for MDD and a potential endophenotype for the development of depression. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Reward function: A promising but (still) underexamined dimension in developmental psychopathology.Open in a New Window

The goal of this Special Section is to explore the ways that investigation of reward function can shed light on the development and pathophysiology of psychopathology. Reward function provides a promising starting point for clinical affective neuroscience research because, thanks to the extensive literature on the neural mechanisms of addiction, the functional neuroanatomy, cellular mechanisms, and genetic contributions to reward circuitry have been well delineated (see Russo & Nestler, 2013, for details). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Acquisition of behavioral avoidance: Task-irrelevant conditioned stimuli trigger costly decisions.Open in a New Window

Individuals avoid stimuli which are associated with aversive experience to preserve safety. However, behavioral avoidance also causes impairments and prevents the individual from attaining positive rewards. Little is known about the link between fear acquisition and the development of behavioral avoidance in the presence of potential rewards. Therefore, two experiments investigated the impact of fear conditioning on a subsequent gambling task. In an experimental group (n = 30) advantageous choices (higher reward probability) were linked to a fear-relevant stimulus that was associated with an aversive unconditioned stimulus (US) during fear conditioning (conditioned stimulus, CS+). A disadvantageous choice (lower reward probability) was, however, linked to a safe stimulus that was never associated with the US (CS−). In a control group (n = 25), fear conditioning was followed by a similar gambling task with novel stimuli. A second experiment focused on individual predictors of avoidant decisions (n = 81). Compared with the control group, individuals in the experimental groups avoided the advantageous CS + choice despite fewer gains. The predictor analysis further clarified that avoidant decisions were pronounced in highly trait anxious participants who exhibited higher fear responses. On the other hand, findings also indicated a reduction in absolute avoidance across the task. Combined, these findings demonstrate that fear conditioning can lead to avoidant decision making, especially in vulnerable individuals. The resulting costs parallel impairments caused by behavioral avoidance. Such an emotional decision-making style may be a link between aversive experience and the development of habitual pathological avoidance. Introducing rewards for approach, however, may counteract avoidant decisions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Are attentional control resources reduced by worry in generalized anxiety disorder?Open in a New Window

This is the first study to examine attentional control capacities in generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). GAD is characterized by uncontrollable worry. Individuals diagnosed with GAD and healthy participants (HPs) performed a random key-pressing task while thinking about a worrisome or a positive future event, to assess the extent to which attentional control resources are used by worry. Attentional control was also assessed when participants were not instructed to think about a specific topic using the N-back task, which varies in task difficulty, and therefore is sensitive to subtle differences in ability to handle increasing demands on attentional control within the same paradigm. GAD participants (but not HPs) were less random while worrying than thinking about a positive event during the key-pressing task, suggesting that worry consumed more attentional control resources in this population. During the N-Back task, GAD participants performed worse than HPs during the high load conditions only, indicating greater difficulty in sustaining focus on conditions requiring a higher degree of attentional control, even without concurrent task activity. Poor attentional control might underpin the difficulty of GAD individuals to stop worrying and switch to thinking more benign information. Further research could investigate whether worry consumes attentional control resources in other psychological disorders with high rates of worry (e.g., panic disorder, psychosis), as well as the extent to which attentional control is used by other forms of repetitive thinking, such as depressive rumination. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Peer victimization (and harsh parenting) as developmental correlates of cognitive reactivity, a diathesis for depression.Open in a New Window

Prior research has shown cognitive reactivity to be a diathesis for depression. Seeking evidence for the developmental origins of such diatheses, the current study examined peer victimization and harsh parenting as developmental correlates of cognitive reactivity in 571 children and adolescents (ages 8–13 years). Four major findings emerged. First, a new method for assessing cognitive reactivity in children and adolescents showed significant reliability and demonstrated construct validity vis-à-vis its relation to depression. Second, history of more severe peer victimization was significantly related to cognitive reactivity, with verbal victimization being more strongly tied to cognitive reactivity than other subtypes of peer victimization. Third, harsh parenting was also significantly related to cognitive reactivity. Fourth, both peer victimization and harsh parenting made unique statistical contributions to cognitive reactivity, after controlling for the effects of the other. Taken together, these findings provide preliminary support for a developmental model pertaining to origins of cognitive reactivity in children and adolescents. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Faces, feelings, words: Divergence across channels of emotional responding in complicated grief.Open in a New Window

Recent evidence suggests that the inability to respond in a context appropriate manner earlier in bereavement is predictive of a protracted grief course with poorer adjustment following the loss (Coifman & Bonanno, 2010). However, little is known about the emotional behavior of adults later in bereavement and whether emotional responding becomes dsyregulated across other channels. An impressive body of evidence in the schizophrenia literature demonstrates a marked disconnection between observable displays of emotion and experienced affect within individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia (e.g., Kring & Moran, 2008). On the basis of this influential work, we examined the emotional responses of a sample of bereaved adults who lost a spouse 1.5–3 years previously. One bereaved group had complicated grief (CG) and the other was relatively asymptomatic. We used an idiographic task where participants discussed their relationships with their spouse and current attachment figure in contexts of conflict and intimacy. We measured emotional responses across 3 channels: self-reported affect, facial expressions, and emotional word use. Individuals within the CG group were less facially expressive across contexts than the asymptomatic group but in some contexts reported experiencing greater affect and used more negative emotion words. These findings suggest that complicated grief in later bereavement is characterized by a disassociation between emotional responding across channels, with context insensitive responding, restricted to facial displays of emotion. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


The role of early childhood ADHD and subsequent CD in the initiation and escalation of adolescent cigarette, alcohol, and marijuana use.Open in a New Window

Adolescents with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at an increased risk for substance use but the pathways through which this risk emerges are insufficiently understood. Tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana outcomes were compared between adolescents diagnosed with ADHD in early childhood (N = 113) and demographically similar controls (N = 65). Participants were assessed from age 5 until age 18. A comprehensive history of adolescent substance use was compiled for each participant and growth in ADHD and conduct disorder (CD) were modeled as they related to substance use outcomes. Results indicated that when compared with controls, adolescents with ADHD were more likely to try cigarettes, initiate alcohol use at early ages, and smoke marijuana more frequently. Furthermore, adolescents with ADHD were 4 to 5 times more likely than controls to escalate to heavy cigarette and marijuana use after trying these substances once. Adolescents with ADHD who escalated to heavy use patterns were more likely to display early cigarette use and marked problems with family members, but displayed fewer peer problems. There was evidence of baseline effects (latent intercept, measured at age 5) for both ADHD and CD on substance use outcomes. Furthermore, growth in ADHD symptoms accounted for much of the growth in CD symptoms, and consequently, escalating CD symptoms in childhood (latent slope) were viewed as a mediator of the relationship between ADHD and cigarette and marijuana use. Maternal drinking in early childhood was the strongest predictor of early adolescent alcohol use. These findings are discussed with respect to the role of ADHD in the development of adolescent risk outcomes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Anhedonia and the relative reward value of drug and nondrug reinforcers in cigarette smokers.Open in a New Window

Anhedonia—a psychopathologic trait indicative of diminished interest, pleasure, and enjoyment—has been linked to use of and addiction to several substances, including tobacco. We hypothesized that anhedonic drug users develop an imbalance in the relative reward value of drug versus nondrug reinforcers, which could maintain drug use behavior. To test this hypothesis, we examined whether anhedonia predicted the tendency to choose an immediate drug reward (i.e., smoking) over a less immediate nondrug reward (i.e., money) in a laboratory study of non–treatment-seeking adult cigarette smokers. Participants (N = 275, ≥10 cigarettes/day) attended a baseline visit that involved anhedonia assessment followed by 2 counterbalanced experimental visits: (a) after 16-hr smoking abstinence and (b) nonabstinent. At both experimental visits, participants completed self-report measures of mood state followed by a behavioral smoking task, which measured 2 aspects of the relative reward value of smoking versus money: (1) latency to initiate smoking when delaying smoking was monetarily rewarded and (2) willingness to purchase individual cigarettes. Results indicated that higher anhedonia predicted quicker smoking initiation and more cigarettes purchased. These relations were partially mediated by low positive and high negative mood states assessed immediately prior to the smoking task. Abstinence amplified the extent to which anhedonia predicted cigarette consumption among those who responded to the abstinence manipulation, but not the entire sample. Anhedonia may bias motivation toward smoking over alternative reinforcers, perhaps by giving rise to poor acute mood states. An imbalance in the reward value assigned to drug versus nondrug reinforcers may link anhedonia-related psychopathology to drug use. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Effort, anhedonia, and function in schizophrenia: Reduced effort allocation predicts amotivation and functional impairment.Open in a New Window

One of the most debilitating aspects of schizophrenia is an apparent interest in or ability to exert effort for rewards. Such “negative symptoms” may prevent individuals from obtaining potentially beneficial outcomes in educational, occupational, or social domains. In animal models, dopamine abnormalities decrease willingness to work for rewards, implicating dopamine (DA) function as a candidate substrate for negative symptoms given that schizophrenia involves dysregulation of the dopamine system. We used the effort-expenditure for rewards task (EEfRT) to assess the degree to which individuals with schizophrenia were wiling to exert increased effort for either larger magnitude rewards or for rewards that were more probable. Fifty-nine individuals with schizophrenia and 39 demographically similar controls performed the EEfRT task, which involves making choices between “easy” and “hard” tasks to earn potential rewards. Individuals with schizophrenia showed less of an increase in effort allocation as either reward magnitude or probability increased. In controls, the frequency of choosing the hard task in high reward magnitude and probability conditions was negatively correlated with depression severity and anhedonia. In schizophrenia, fewer hard task choices were associated with more severe negative symptoms and worse community and work function as assessed by a caretaker. Consistent with patterns of disrupted dopamine functioning observed in animal models of schizophrenia, these results suggest that 1 mechanism contributing to impaired function and motivational drive in schizophrenia may be a reduced allocation of greater effort for higher magnitude or higher probability rewards. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Clinician judgments of clinical utility: A comparison of DSM-IV-TR personality disorders and the alternative model for DSM-5 personality disorders.Open in a New Window

This study compared the perceived clinical utility of DSM-IV–TR personality disorder diagnoses (retained in DSM-5) with the alternative model presented in DSM-5 Section III, using a national sample of clinicians applying both systems to their own patients. A sample of 337 mental health clinicians (26% psychiatrists, 63% psychologists, and 11% other professional disciplines) provided a complete assessment of all personality disorder features listed in DSM-IV–TR and DSM-5 Section III. After applying each diagnostic model, clinicians evaluated the clinical utility of that model with respect to communication with patients and with other professionals, comprehensiveness, descriptiveness, ease of use, and utility for treatment planning. These perceptions were compared across DSM-IV–TR and the 3 components of the DSM-5 Section III model, and between psychiatrists and nonpsychiatrists. Although DSM-IV–TR was seen as easy to use and useful for professional communication, in every other respect the DSM-5 Section III model was viewed as being equally or more clinically useful than DSM-IV–TR. In particular, the DSM-5 dimensional trait model was seen as more useful than DSM-IV–TR in 5 of 6 comparisons—by psychiatrists as well as other professionals. Although concerns were expressed about the clinical utility of the DSM-5 personality disorder system during its development, these criticisms were offered without data on the proposed system. The results of this study demonstrate that aside from the current familiarity of the DSM-IV–TR approach, it offers little advantage in perceived clinical utility over the DSM-5 Section III system, whereas the latter is viewed as being more useful in several respects. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Sex differences in the etiology of psychopathic traits in youth.Open in a New Window

Few studies have examined the etiology of psychopathic traits in youth, and even fewer have tested whether the genetic and environmental influences underlying these traits differ for boys and girls. We tested for sex differences in the etiology of 3 trait dimensions—impulsivity, narcissism, and callous-unemotionality (CU)—previously found to underlie youth psychopathy in our sample. Using biometric modeling we tested whether constraining the genetic and environmental influences for each dimension across sex reduced model fit. We also tested for qualitative sex differences in the influences underlying these dimensions by allowing the genetic and environmental correlations between opposite sex dizygotic twins to be less than their respective values in same-sex dizygotic twins. Although the magnitudes of the genetic and environmental influences underlying the CU and narcissistic trait dimensions did not differ for boys and girls, nonshared environmental influences contributed significantly greater variance to impulsive traits in boys. No qualitative sex differences were found in the influences underlying any of the 3 trait dimensions, suggesting that the same genes and environments contribute to these psychopathic traits in males and females. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


When or why does perfectionism translate into eating disorder pathology? A longitudinal examination of the moderating and mediating role of body dissatisfaction.Open in a New Window

Although research has shown that perfectionism is associated with eating disorder pathology, the role of body dissatisfaction in this association is less clear. In this study, we examined the possible moderating and mediating role of body dissatisfaction in the relation between perfectionism and increases in eating disorder pathology. Both possible roles were tested in a sample of 455 adolescent girls (mean age = 13.25 years) using a 3-wave longitudinal study. We only found support for the moderation hypothesis, with girls high on both perfectionism and body dissatisfaction exhibiting the highest levels of eating disorder symptoms. Implications of these findings are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Autobiographical memory specificity in dissociative identity disorder.Open in a New Window

A lack of adequate access to autobiographical knowledge has been related to psychopathology. More specifically, patients suffering from depression or a history of trauma have been found to be characterized by overgeneral memory, in other words, they show a relative difficulty in retrieving a specific event from memory located in time and place. Previous studies of overgeneral memory have not included patients with dissociative disorders. These patients are interesting to consider, as they are hypothesized to have the ability to selectively compartmentalize information linked to negative emotions. This study examined avoidance and overgeneral memory in patients with dissociative identity disorder (DID; n = 12). The patients completed the autobiographical memory test (AMT). Their performance was compared with control groups of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients (n = 26), healthy controls (n = 29), and DID simulators (n = 26). Specifically, we compared the performance of separate identity states in DID hypothesized to diverge in the use of avoidance as a coping strategy to deal with negative affect. No significant differences in memory specificity were found between the separate identities in DID. Irrespective of identity state, DID patients were characterized by a lack of memory specificity, which was similar to the lack of memory specificity found in PTSD patients. The converging results for DID and PTSD patients add empirical evidence for the role of overgeneral memory involved in the maintenance of posttraumatic psychopathology. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Response inhibition and psychopathology: A meta-analysis of go/no-go task performance.Open in a New Window

Response inhibition, defined as the ability to withhold a response, is considered to be a core deficit in various mental illnesses. Measures of response inhibition have been used to define functional deficits, as markers of genetic risk, in neuroimaging studies, and for diagnostic purposes in these disorders. However, the magnitude of the deficit across psychopathologies has not been systematically assessed. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of performance on commonly used measures of the ability to withhold a response: go/no-go task, Conners’ continuous performance task (CCPT), and sustained attention to response task (SART). The primary variable of interest in each of these tasks was commission errors (CE), which provides an index of one’s ability to correctly withhold a response. In addition, we examined omission errors (OE) which are an index of sustained attention; and mean reaction time (RT; MRT). Three-hundred and 18 studies in 11 different psychiatric disorders met inclusion criteria. Weighted mean effect sizes (ESs) were calculated to measure the magnitude of the deficit. In general, we found low-to-medium ESs for commission errors ranging from g = −0.10 for anxiety disorder to medium ESs of g = 0.52 for bipolar disorder. Small-to-medium deficits in withholding were found in various disorders. Results indicate that deficits in withholding are insufficiently sensitive or specific to be used individually as a diagnostic measure or biomarker in most disorders. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Symptoms of autism and ADHD: A Swedish twin study examining their overlap.Open in a New Window

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) show high comorbidity. The following questions were addressed regarding their specific symptoms: What is the factor structure of ASD and ADHD symptoms, to what degree do different symptom domains cluster together, to what extent are these domains caused by the same genetic and environmental influences, and what is the best model of their co-occurrence? A population-based twin cohort of over 17,000 9- and 12-year-olds were assessed using the Autism–Tics, AD/HD, and other Comorbidities parental interview inventory. Principal component analyses were conducted, and symptom domain clustering was assessed. Four multivariate twin models were compared. Factors split into three ASD (social impairments, communication impairments, and restricted repetitive behaviors and interests), and three ADHD (inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity) symptom domains. Some ASD–ADHD symptom domain combinations clustered together often, although others not at all. A two-factor common pathway model fit the data, suggesting that ASD and ADHD symptom domains tap into separate “ASD” and “ADHD” latent factors that showed high genetic overlap. All subdomains also showed significant specific genetic and environmental influences, reflecting the etiological heterogeneity both within and between ASD and ADHD. These findings support the conceptual distinction of ASD and ADHD, and demonstrate the considerable natural co-occurrence of particular ASD/ADHD symptom domains. The results imply that more children with 1 condition show features of the other condition than show complete comorbidity. Emphasis on symptom co-occurrence, rather than complete comorbidity between disorders, may help focus clinical approaches and advance molecular genetic research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Quantifying heterogeneity attributable to polythetic diagnostic criteria: Theoretical framework and empirical application.Open in a New Window

Heterogeneity within psychiatric disorders is both theoretically and practically problematic: For many disorders, it is possible for 2 individuals to share very few or even no symptoms in common yet share the same diagnosis. Polythetic diagnostic criteria have long been recognized to contribute to this heterogeneity, yet no unified theoretical understanding of the coherence of symptom criteria sets currently exists. A general framework for analyzing the logical and mathematical structure, coherence, and diversity of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual diagnostic categories (DSM-5 and DSM-IV-TR) is proposed, drawing from combinatorial mathematics, set theory, and information theory. Theoretical application of this framework to 18 diagnostic categories indicates that in most categories, 2 individuals with the same diagnosis may share no symptoms in common, and that any 2 theoretically possible symptom combinations will share on average less than half their symptoms. Application of this framework to 2 large empirical datasets indicates that patients who meet symptom criteria for major depressive disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder tend to share approximately three-fifths of symptoms in common. For both disorders in each of the datasets, pairs of individuals who shared no common symptoms were observed. Any 2 individuals with either diagnosis were unlikely to exhibit identical symptomatology. The theoretical and empirical results stemming from this approach have substantive implications for etiological research into, and measurement of, psychiatric disorders. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)


Low implicit and explicit aversion toward self-cutting stimuli longitudinally predict nonsuicidal self-injury.Open in a New Window

There is a pressing need to improve the ability to identify individuals at risk for nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI; e.g., cutting or burning oneself); unfortunately, beyond prior NSSI, there are few powerful longitudinal predictors of NSSI. The present study addressed this limitation by investigating the ability of a novel factor—low aversion to self-cutting stimuli—to longitudinally predict NSSI in 49 individuals with a history of self-cutting. Results revealed that both low implicit and explicit aversion to self-cutting stimuli were significantly associated with future NSSI (rs = .32–.51), and that these associations were unique from several other theoretically important predictors, including prior NSSI, number of NSSI methods, implicit identification with self-cutting, self-prediction of future NSSI, emotion dysregulation, and therapy status. These findings are consistent with the notion that instinctive barriers (e.g., aversion to NSSI stimuli, pain) dissuade most people from engaging in NSSI, and that the erosion of these barriers may facilitate NSSI. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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