New Research From Clinical Psychological Science

Read about the latest research published in Clinical Psychological Science:

Positive Affectivity Is Dampened in Youths With Histories of Major Depression and Their Never-Depressed Adolescent Siblings

Maria Kovacs, Lauren M. Bylsma, Ilya Yaroslavsky, Jonathan Rottenberg, Charles J. George, Enikö Kiss, Kitti Halas, István Benák, Ildiko Baji, Ágnes Vetró, and Krisztina Kapornai

Depressed individuals often display a reduced ability to experience pleasure and joy, known as anhedonia. Although anhedonia has been extensively studied, several questions remain, such as whether it persists after depression remission and whether it constitutes a risk factor for depression. Participants with a history of childhood major depressive disorder (MDD), never-depressed siblings of those participants, and healthy control participants completed several tasks meant to induce positive affect. After each task, participants rated their positive and negative affect. Control participants reported the highest levels of positive affect in response to the tasks, followed by nondepressed siblings, those with MDD in remission, and those with active MDD. The presence of reduced positive affect in those with remitted depression and in nondepressed siblings provides some evidence that anhedonia is a risk factor for MDD and a trait.

Posttraumatic Growth–An Antecedent and Outcome of Posttraumatic Stress: Cross-Lagged Associations Among Individuals Exposed to Terrorism

Ines Blix, Marianne Skogbrott Birkeland, Marianne Bang Hansen, and Trond Heir

Posttraumatic growth (PTG) refers to positive personal and psychological changes that occur after one experiences trauma. Whereas some see PTG as a marker of recovery, others see it as maladaptive and self-deceptive. To study the relationship between PTG and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the researchers examined people who were present during the 2011 bombing in Oslo, Norway. PTG and PTSD were assessed 10 and 22 months after the bombing. The researchers found that PTG at 10 months was associated with PTSD at 22 months and PTSD at 10 months was associated with PTG at 22 months. This finding suggests reciprocal effects between PTG and PTSD whereby they mutually promote each other. This calls into question whether PTG is an adaptive coping mechanism and indicates the need for more research.

Striatal Dopamine, Externalizing Proneness, and Substance Abuse: Effects on Wanting and Learning During Reward-Based Decision Making

Kaileigh A. Byrne, Christopher J. Patrick, and Darrell A. Worthy

Variations in striatal dopamine levels are associated with differences in externalizing problems. The striatum is the part of the brain involved in reward processing, so it is not surprising that externalizing problems have, in turn, been linked to problems in reward-based decision making. To examine the relationship between striatal dopamine and different facets of externalizing behavior (disinhibition and substance abuse), the researchers assessed reward-related wanting in participants using a delay-discounting task and reward-related learning using a dynamic decision-making task. Participants were also assessed for externalizing tendencies. Substance abuse was associated with poorer learning in people with low dopamine levels and with enhanced learning in people with higher dopamine levels. Disinhibition was associated with preferences for immediate rewards, but only in those with low dopamine levels.

Christopher J. Patrick will speak in the Invited Sympsium “Establishing Psychometric Expectations for Neurobiological Assessment,” and Darrell A. Worthy will speak in the Invited Symposium “Understanding Reinforcement Learning in Gambling Tasks” at the 28th APS Annual Convention in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

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