Impaired flexible decision-making in Major Depressive Disorder

Cella, Matteo; Dymond, Simon and Cooper, Andrew. 2010. Impaired flexible decision-making in Major Depressive Disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 123(1-2), pp. 207-210. ISSN 0165-0327 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Depression is associated with dysfunctional affective states, neuropsychological impairment and altered sensitivity to reward and punishment. These impairments can influence complex decision-making in changing environments. The contingency shifting variant Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) was used to assess flexible decision-making performance in a group of medicated unipolar Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) patients (n = 19) and a group of healthy control volunteers (n = 20). The task comprised the standard IGT followed by a contingency-shift phase where decks progressively changed reward and punishment schedule. Patients with MDD showed impaired performance compared to controls during both the standard and the contingency-shift phases of the IGT. Analysis of the contingency-shift phase demonstrated that individuals with depression had difficulties perceiving when a previously bad contingency became good. The present findings have several limitations including small sample size, the possible confounding role of medication and absence of other neuropsychological tests (i.e., executive function). Depressed patients show impaired decision-making behaviour in static and dynamic environments. Altered sensitivity to reward and punishment is proposed as the mechanism responsible for the lack of advantageous choices and poor adjustment to a changing environment.

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depression decision-making reward sensitivity IGT MDD flexibility

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July 2010Published

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Date Deposited:

17 Nov 2010 11:11

Last Modified:

30 Jun 2017 14:16

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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