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1.
Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry ; 2022 Jul 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-35906425

ABSTRACT

Childhood adversity is associated with psychopathology. First evidence in adults suggests that threat anticipation, i.e., an enhanced anticipation of unpleasant events creating an enduring sense of threat, may be a putative mechanism linking childhood adversity to psychopathology. This study aimed to test the indirect effect of childhood adversity on psychopathology via threat anticipation in a large community sample of adolescents. We measured childhood trauma and bullying victimization (as indicators of childhood adversity), threat anticipation, general psychopathology and prodromal psychotic symptoms in adolescents aged 12-16 years (full sample size N = 1682; minimum sample size in the complete case sample N = 449) in wave I of the SIGMA study. We found strong evidence that childhood adversity (e.g. childhood trauma, adj. ß (aß) = 0.54, p < .001) and threat anticipation (e.g. aß = 0.36, p < .001) were associated with general psychopathology and prodromal psychotic symptoms. Moreover, there was evidence that the association between childhood adversity, general psychopathology and prodromal psychotic symptoms is mediated via pathways through threat anticipation (e.g. childhood trauma, aßindirect effect = 0.13, p < .001). Threat anticipation may be a potential mechanism linking childhood adversity and psychopathology in adolescents.

2.
Sci Rep ; 12(1): 8061, 2022 05 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-35577829

ABSTRACT

Deep learning approaches can uncover complex patterns in data. In particular, variational autoencoders achieve this by a non-linear mapping of data into a low-dimensional latent space. Motivated by an application to psychological resilience in the Mainz Resilience Project, which features intermittent longitudinal measurements of stressors and mental health, we propose an approach for individualized, dynamic modeling in this latent space. Specifically, we utilize ordinary differential equations (ODEs) and develop a novel technique for obtaining person-specific ODE parameters even in settings with a rather small number of individuals and observations, incomplete data, and a differing number of observations per individual. This technique allows us to subsequently investigate individual reactions to stimuli, such as the mental health impact of stressors. A potentially large number of baseline characteristics can then be linked to this individual response by regularized regression, e.g., for identifying resilience factors. Thus, our new method provides a way of connecting different kinds of complex longitudinal and baseline measures via individualized, dynamic models. The promising results obtained in the exemplary resilience application indicate that our proposal for dynamic deep learning might also be more generally useful for other application domains.


Subject(s)
Resilience, Psychological , Humans , Mental Health
3.
Psychol Med ; : 1-10, 2022 Jan 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-34991751

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: There is evidence for a polygenic contribution to psychosis. One targetable mechanism through which polygenic variation may impact on individuals and interact with the social environment is stress sensitization, characterized by elevated reactivity to minor stressors in daily life. The current study aimed to investigate whether stress reactivity is modified by polygenic risk score for schizophrenia (PRS) in cases with enduring non-affective psychotic disorder, first-degree relatives of cases, and controls. METHODS: We used the experience sampling method to assess minor stressors, negative affect, positive affect and psychotic experiences in 96 cases, 79 first-degree relatives, i.e. siblings, and 73 controls at wave 3 of the Dutch Genetic Risk and Outcome of Psychosis (GROUP) study. Genome-wide data were collected at baseline to calculate PRS. RESULTS: We found that associations of momentary stress with psychotic experiences, but not with negative and positive affect, were modified by PRS and group (all pFWE<0.001). In contrast to our hypotheses, siblings with high PRS reported less intense psychotic experiences in response to momentary stress compared to siblings with low PRS. No differences in magnitude of these associations were observed in cases with high v. low level of PRS. By contrast, controls with high PRS showed more intense psychotic experiences in response to stress compared to those with low PRS. CONCLUSIONS: This tentatively suggests that polygenic risk may operate in different ways than previously assumed and amplify reactivity to stress in unaffected individuals but operate as a resilience factor in relatives by attenuating their stress reactivity.

4.
JMIR Res Protoc ; 10(12): e27462, 2021 Dec 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-34870613

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Most mental disorders first emerge in youth and, in their early stages, surface as subthreshold expressions of symptoms comprising a transdiagnostic phenotype of psychosis, mania, depression, and anxiety. Elevated stress reactivity is one of the most widely studied mechanisms underlying psychotic and affective mental health problems. Thus, targeting stress reactivity in youth is a promising indicated and translational preventive strategy for adverse mental health outcomes that could develop later in life and for improving resilience. Compassion-focused interventions offer a wide range of innovative therapeutic techniques that are particularly amenable to being implemented as ecological momentary interventions (EMIs), a specific type of mobile health intervention, to enable youth to access interventions in a given moment and context in daily life. This approach may bridge the current gap in youth mental health care. OBJECTIVE: This study aims to investigate the clinical feasibility, candidate underlying mechanisms, and initial signals of the efficacy of a novel, transdiagnostic, hybrid EMI for improving resilience to stress in youth-EMIcompass. METHODS: In an exploratory randomized controlled trial, youth aged between 14 and 25 years with current distress, a broad Clinical High At-Risk Mental State, or the first episode of a severe mental disorder will be randomly allocated to the EMIcompass intervention (ie, EMI plus face-to-face training sessions) in addition to treatment as usual or a control condition of treatment as usual only. Primary (stress reactivity) and secondary candidate mechanisms (resilience, interpersonal sensitivity, threat anticipation, negative affective appraisals, and momentary physiological markers of stress reactivity), as well as primary (psychological distress) and secondary outcomes (primary psychiatric symptoms and general psychopathology), will be assessed at baseline, postintervention, and at the 4-week follow-up. RESULTS: The first enrollment was in August 2019, and as of May 2021, enrollment and randomization was completed (N=92). We expect data collection to be completed by August 2021. CONCLUSIONS: This study is the first to establish feasibility, evidence on underlying mechanisms, and preliminary signals of the efficacy of a compassion-focused EMI in youth. If successful, a confirmatory randomized controlled trial will be warranted. Overall, our approach has the potential to significantly advance preventive interventions in youth mental health provision. TRIAL REGISTRATION: German Clinical Trials Register DRKS00017265; https://www.drks.de/drks_web/navigate.do?navigationId=trial.HTML&TRIAL_ID=DRKS00017265. INTERNATIONAL REGISTERED REPORT IDENTIFIER (IRRID): DERR1-10.2196/27462.

5.
JMIR Ment Health ; 8(11): e30309, 2021 11 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-34807831

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Negative symptoms occur in individuals at ultrahigh risk (UHR) for psychosis. Although there is evidence that observer ratings of negative symptoms are associated with level of functioning, the predictive value of subjective experience in daily life for individuals at UHR has not been studied yet. OBJECTIVE: This study therefore aims to investigate the predictive value of momentary manifestations of negative symptoms for clinical outcomes in individuals at UHR. METHODS: Experience sampling methodology was used to measure momentary manifestations of negative symptoms (blunted affective experience, lack of social drive, anhedonia, and social anhedonia) in the daily lives of 79 individuals at UHR. Clinical outcomes (level of functioning, illness severity, UHR status, and transition status) were assessed at baseline and at 1- and 2-year follow-ups. RESULTS: Lack of social drive, operationalized as greater experienced pleasantness of being alone, was associated with poorer functioning at the 2-year follow-up (b=-4.62, P=.01). Higher levels of anhedonia were associated with poorer functioning at the 1-year follow-up (b=5.61, P=.02). Higher levels of social anhedonia were associated with poorer functioning (eg, disability subscale: b=6.36, P=.006) and greater illness severity (b=-0.38, P=.045) at the 1-year follow-up. In exploratory analyses, there was evidence that individuals with greater variability of positive affect (used as a measure of blunted affective experience) experienced a shorter time to remission from UHR status at follow-up (hazard ratio=4.93, P=.005). CONCLUSIONS: Targeting negative symptoms in individuals at UHR may help to predict clinical outcomes and may be a promising target for interventions in the early stages of psychosis.

6.
Front Psychol ; 12: 710493, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-34539510

ABSTRACT

Resilience has been defined as the maintenance or quick recovery of mental health during and after times of adversity. How to operationalize resilience and to determine the factors and processes that lead to good long-term mental health outcomes in stressor-exposed individuals is a matter of ongoing debate and of critical importance for the advancement of the field. One of the biggest challenges for implementing an outcome-based definition of resilience in longitudinal observational study designs lies in the fact that real-life adversity is usually unpredictable and that its substantial qualitative as well as temporal variability between subjects often precludes defining circumscribed time windows of inter-individually comparable stressor exposure relative to which the maintenance or recovery of mental health can be determined. To address this pertinent issue, we propose to frequently and regularly monitor stressor exposure (E) and mental health problems (P) throughout a study's observation period [Frequent Stressor and Mental Health Monitoring (FRESHMO)-paradigm]. On this basis, a subject's deviation at any single monitoring time point from the study sample's normative E-P relationship (the regression residual) can be used to calculate that subject's current mental health reactivity to stressor exposure ("stressor reactivity," SR). The SR score takes into account the individual extent of experienced adversity and is comparable between and within subjects. Individual SR time courses across monitoring time points reflect intra-individual temporal variability in SR, where periods of under-reactivity (negative SR score) are associated with accumulation of fewer mental health problems than is normal for the sample. If FRESHMO is accompanied by regular measurement of potential resilience factors, temporal changes in resilience factors can be used to predict SR time courses. An increase in a resilience factor measurement explaining a lagged decrease in SR can then be considered to index a process of adaptation to stressor exposure that promotes a resilient outcome (an allostatic resilience process). This design principle allows resilience research to move beyond merely determining baseline predictors of resilience outcomes, which cannot inform about how individuals successfully adjust and adapt when confronted with adversity. Hence, FRESHMO plus regular resilience factor monitoring incorporates a dynamic-systems perspective into resilience research.

7.
JMIR Ment Health ; 8(8): e25650, 2021 Aug 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-34383687

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Digital interventions offer new avenues for low-threshold prevention and treatment in young people. Ecological momentary interventions (EMIs) represent a powerful approach that allows for adaptive, real-time, and real-world delivery of intervention components in daily life by real-time processing of ecological momentary assessment (EMA) data. Compassion-focused interventions (CFIs) may be particularly amenable to translation into an EMI to strengthen emotional resilience and modify putative risk mechanisms, such as stress sensitivity, in the daily lives of young help-seeking individuals. OBJECTIVE: This study aims to investigate the feasibility, safety, and initial therapeutic effects of a novel, accessible, transdiagnostic, ecological momentary CFI for improving emotional resilience to stress (EMIcompass). METHODS: In this uncontrolled pilot study, help-seeking youth with psychotic, depressive, or anxiety symptoms were offered the EMIcompass intervention in addition to treatment as usual. The EMIcompass intervention consisted of a 3-week EMI (including enhancing, consolidating, and EMA-informed interactive tasks) administered through a mobile health app and three face-to-face sessions with a trained psychologist intended to provide guidance and training on the CFI exercises presented in the app (ie, training session, follow-up booster session, and review session). RESULTS: In total, 10 individuals (mean age 20.3 years, SD 3.8; range 14-25) were included in the study. Most (8/10, 80%) participants were satisfied and reported a low burden of app usage. No adverse events were observed. In approximately one-third of all EMAs, individuals scored high on stress, negative affect, or threat anticipation during the intervention period, resulting in real-time, interactive delivery of the CFI intervention components in addition to weekly enhancing and daily consolidating tasks. Although the findings should be interpreted with caution because of the small sample size, reduced stress sensitivity, momentary negative affect, and psychotic experiences, along with increased positive affect, were found at postintervention and the 4-week follow-up. Furthermore, reductions in psychotic, anxiety, and depressive symptoms were found (r=0.30-0.65). CONCLUSIONS: Our findings provide evidence on the feasibility and safety of the EMIcompass intervention for help-seeking youth and lend initial support to beneficial effects on stress sensitivity and mental health outcomes. An exploratory randomized controlled trial is warranted to establish the feasibility and preliminary evidence of its efficacy.

8.
Nervenarzt ; 93(3): 279-287, 2022 Mar.
Article in German | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-33730181

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Ward-equivalent treatment (StäB), a form of crisis resolution and home treatment in Germany, has been introduced in 2018 as a new model of mental health service delivery for people with an indication for inpatient care. The rapid progress in the field of information and communication technology offers entirely new opportunities for innovative digital mental health care, such as telemedicine, eHealth, or mHealth interventions. OBJECTIVE: This review aims to provide a comprehensive overview of novel digital forms of service delivery that may contribute to a personalized delivery of StäB and improving clinical and social outcomes as well as reducing direct and indirect costs. METHOD: This work is based on a narrative review. RESULTS: Four primary digital forms of service delivery have been identified that can be used for personalized delivery of StäB: (1) communication, continuity of care, and flexibility through online chat and video call; (2) monitoring of symptoms and behavior in real-time through ecological momentary assessment (EMA); (3) use of multimodal EMA data to generate and offer personalized feedback on subjective experience and behavioral patterns as well as (4) adaptive ecological momentary interventions (EMI) tailored to the person, moment, and context in daily life. CONCLUSION: New digital forms of service delivery have considerable potential to increase the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of crisis resolution, home treatment, and assertive outreach. An important next step is to model and initially evaluate these novel digital forms of service delivery in the context of StäB and carefully investigate their quality from the user perspective, safety, feasibility, initial process and outcome quality as well as barriers and facilitators of implementation.


Subject(s)
Ecological Momentary Assessment , Telemedicine , Germany , Humans
9.
Eur Psychiatry ; 64(1): e20, 2021 03 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-33686930

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Public health measures to curb SARS-CoV-2 transmission rates may have negative psychosocial consequences in youth. Digital interventions may help to mitigate these effects. We investigated the associations between social isolation, COVID-19-related cognitive preoccupation, worries, and anxiety, objective social risk indicators, and psychological distress, as well as use of, and attitude toward, mobile health (mHealth) interventions in youth. METHODS: Data were collected as part of the "Mental Health And Innovation During COVID-19 Survey"-a cross-sectional panel study including a representative sample of individuals aged 16-25 years (N = 666; Mage = 21.3; assessment period: May 5, 2020 to May 16, 2020). RESULTS: Overall, 38% of youth met criteria for moderate or severe psychological distress. Social isolation worries and anxiety, and objective risk indicators were associated with psychological distress, with evidence of dose-response relationships for some of these associations. For instance, psychological distress was progressively more likely to occur as levels of social isolation increased (reporting "never" as reference group: "occasionally": adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 9.1, 95% confidence interval [CI] 4.3-19.1, p < 0.001; "often": aOR 22.2, CI 9.8-50.2, p < 0.001; "very often": aOR 42.3, CI 14.1-126.8, p < 0.001). There was evidence that psychological distress, worries, and anxiety were associated with a positive attitude toward using mHealth interventions, whereas psychological distress, worries, and anxiety were associated with actual use. CONCLUSIONS: Public health measures during pandemics may be associated with poor mental health outcomes in youth. Evidence-based digital interventions may help mitigate the negative psychosocial impact without risk of viral infection given there is an objective need and subjective demand.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Internet-Based Intervention/statistics & numerical data , Mental Health , Quarantine , Social Isolation/psychology , Stress, Psychological , Anxiety/prevention & control , Anxiety/psychology , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/psychology , Cross-Sectional Studies , Female , Germany/epidemiology , Humans , Male , Quarantine/methods , Quarantine/psychology , SARS-CoV-2 , Stress, Psychological/etiology , Stress, Psychological/prevention & control , Telemedicine/methods , Young Adult
10.
Psychol Med ; : 1-10, 2021 Mar 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-33678198

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: One putative psychological mechanism through which momentary stress impacts on psychosis in individuals with increased liability to the disorder is via affective disturbance. However, to date, this has not been systematically tested. We aimed to investigate whether (i) cross-sectional and temporal effects of momentary stress on psychotic experiences via affective disturbance, and (ii) the reverse pathway of psychotic experiences on stress via affective disturbance were modified by familial liability to psychosis. METHODS: The Experience Sampling Method was used in a pooled data set of six studies with three groups of 245 individuals with psychotic disorder, 165 unaffected first-degree relatives, and 244 healthy control individuals to index familial liability. Multilevel moderated mediation models were fitted to investigate indirect effects across groups cross-sectionally and multilevel cross-lagged panel models to investigate temporal effects in the proposed pathways across two measurement occasions. RESULTS: Evidence on indirect effects from cross-sectional models indicated that, in all three groups, effects of stress on psychotic experiences were mediated by negative affect and, vice versa, effects of psychotic experiences on stress were mediated by negative affect, with all indirect effects being weakest in relatives. Longitudinal modelling of data provided no evidence of temporal priority of stress in exerting its indirect effects on psychotic experiences via affective disturbance or, vice versa. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings tentatively suggest a rapid vicious cycle of stress impacting psychotic experiences via affective disturbances, which does, however, not seem to be consistently modified by familial liability to psychosis.

11.
J Med Internet Res ; 23(3): e23365, 2021 03 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-33606657

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Accumulating evidence suggests the COVID-19 pandemic has negative effects on public mental health. Digital interventions that have been developed and evaluated in recent years may be used to mitigate the negative consequences of the pandemic. However, evidence-based recommendations on the use of existing telemedicine and internet-based (eHealth) and app-based mobile health (mHealth) interventions are lacking. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to investigate the theoretical and empirical base, user perspective, safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of digital interventions related to public mental health provision (ie, mental health promotion, prevention, and treatment of mental disorders) that may help to reduce the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: A rapid meta-review was conducted. The MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and CENTRAL databases were searched on May 11, 2020. Study inclusion criteria were broad and considered systematic reviews and meta-analyses that investigated digital tools for health promotion, prevention, or treatment of mental health conditions and determinants likely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. RESULTS: Overall, 815 peer-reviewed systematic reviews and meta-analyses were identified, of which 83 met the inclusion criteria. Our findings suggest that there is good evidence on the usability, safety, acceptance/satisfaction, and effectiveness of eHealth interventions. Evidence on mHealth apps is promising, especially if social components (eg, blended care) and strategies to promote adherence are incorporated. Although most digital interventions focus on the prevention or treatment of mental disorders, there is some evidence on mental health promotion. However, evidence on process quality, cost-effectiveness, and long-term effects is very limited. CONCLUSIONS: There is evidence that digital interventions are particularly suited to mitigating psychosocial consequences at the population level. In times of physical distancing, quarantine, and restrictions on social contacts, decision makers should develop digital strategies for continued mental health care and invest time and efforts in the development and implementation of mental health promotion and prevention programs.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/psychology , COVID-19/therapy , Mental Disorders/psychology , Mental Disorders/therapy , Public Health/methods , Telemedicine/methods , Humans , Mental Disorders/virology , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification
12.
Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol ; 55(8): 973-975, 2020 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-32377761
13.
Emotion ; 21(4): 801-811, 2021 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-32191091

ABSTRACT

Highly arousing, affective stimuli have adverse effects on cognition and performance. Perception of affective stimuli is, however, highly subjective and may impact on the interaction of emotion and cognition. Here, we tested the impact of high- versus low-threatening stimuli on response inhibition as a function of perceived threat intensity. Response inhibition was probed using a stop-signal paradigm in 62 healthy adults. We used stop-signals that had previously been paired with an unpleasant electrodermal stimulation (i.e., high-threat stimuli) or that had never been paired with electrodermal stimulation (i.e., low-threat stimuli). High-threat stimuli did not affect stopping performance in general. Only participants who perceived the high-threat stimuli as highly painful showed impaired response inhibition on high-threat trials relative to low-threat trials. Participants who perceived the high-threat as mildly painful, however, showed improved response inhibition on high-threat trials. This effect was not moderated by the current anxious state. This suggests that the impact of negative affective stimuli on cognition critically depends on subjective threat perception. Ratings of affective stimuli should be included in studies probing the emotion-cognition interaction because subjective perception might strongly impact on that interaction. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).


Subject(s)
Arousal , Cognition , Emotions , Self-Control , Adolescent , Adult , Anxiety/psychology , Female , Humans , Male , Pain/psychology , Young Adult
14.
Neuroimage ; 204: 116223, 2020 01 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-31557545

ABSTRACT

Motivated by the recent replicability crisis we tested replicability of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) group activations in two independent samples. An identical behavioral and fMRI test battery for the longitudinal investigation of stress resilience mechanisms was developed for the Mainz Resilience Project (MARP) and conducted in a discovery (N = 54) and a replication sample (N = 103). The test battery consisted of a stress reactivity task, a reward sensitivity task, a fear conditioning and extinction paradigm, two volitional reappraisal tasks and an emotional interference inhibition task. Replicability of group activations was tested with the Jaccard index and the Intra Class Correlation (ICC). Overall, we observed good to excellent replicability of activations at the whole brain level. Only a minority of contrasts showed unsatisfactory replicability. Replicability at the level of individual regions of interest (ROIs) was generally lower. Tasks with stronger activation in the discovery sample showed better replicability.


Subject(s)
Brain Mapping/standards , Brain/physiology , Reproducibility of Results , Resilience, Psychological , Stress, Psychological/physiopathology , Adolescent , Adult , Brain/diagnostic imaging , Female , Humans , Longitudinal Studies , Magnetic Resonance Imaging/standards , Male , Stress, Psychological/diagnostic imaging , Young Adult
16.
Behav Brain Res ; 292: 147-56, 2015 Oct 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-26057359

ABSTRACT

In case of uncertainty, predictions that are based on prior, similar experiences guide our decision by processes of generalization. Over-generalization of negative information has been identified as an important feature of several psychopathologies, including anxiety disorders and depression, and might underlie biased interpretation of ambiguous information. Here, we investigated the neural correlates of valence generalization to ambiguous stimuli using a translational affective conditioning task during fMRI. Twenty-five healthy individuals participated in a conditioning procedure with (1) an initial acquisition phase, where participants learned the positive and negative valence of two different tones (reference tones) through their responses and subsequent feedback and (2) a test phase, where participants were presented with the previously learned reference tones and three additional tones with intermediate frequency to the learned reference tones. By recording the responses to these intermediate stimuli we were able to assess the participantsí interpretation of ambiguous tones as either positive or negative. Behavioral results revealed a graded response pattern to the three intermediate tones, which was mirrored on the neural level. More specifically, parametric analyses OF BOLD responses to all five tones revealed a linear effect in bilateral anterior insula and SMA with lowest activation to the negative reference tone and highest activation to the positive negative tone. In addition, a cluster in the SMA showed a reverse-quadratic response, i.e., the strongest response for the most ambiguous tone. These findings suggest overlapping regions in the salience network that mediate valence generalization and decision-making under ambiguity, potentially underlying biased ambiguous cue interpretation.


Subject(s)
Decision Making/physiology , Discrimination, Psychological/physiology , Acoustic Stimulation , Adult , Bias , Cerebral Cortex/physiology , Choice Behavior , Cues , Female , Humans , Magnetic Resonance Imaging , Male , Random Allocation , Reaction Time/physiology , Reward
17.
Front Hum Neurosci ; 7: 272, 2013.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-23781193

ABSTRACT

Affective state can influence cognition leading to biased information processing, interpretation, attention, and memory. Such bias has been reported to be essential for the onset and maintenance of different psychopathologies, particularly affective disorders. However, empirical evidence has been very heterogeneous and little is known about the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying cognitive bias and its time-course. We therefore investigated the interpretation of ambiguous stimuli as indicators of biased information processing with an ambiguous cue-conditioning paradigm. In an acquisition phase, participants learned to discriminate two tones of different frequency, which acquired emotional and motivational value due to subsequent feedback (monetary gain or avoidance of monetary loss). In the test phase, three additional tones of intermediate frequencies were presented, whose interpretation as positive (approach of reward) or negative (avoidance of punishment), indicated by a button press, was used as an indicator of the bias. Twenty healthy volunteers participated in this paradigm while a 64-channel electroencephalogram was recorded. Participants also completed questionnaires assessing individual differences in depression and rumination. Overall, we found a small positive bias, which correlated negatively with reflective pondering, a type of rumination. As expected, reaction times were increased for intermediate tones. ERP amplitudes between 300 and 700 ms post-stimulus differed depending on the interpretation of the intermediate tones. A negative compared to a positive interpretation led to an amplitude increase over frontal electrodes. Our study provides evidence that in humans, as in animal research, the ambiguous cue-conditioning paradigm is a valid procedure for indirectly assessing ambiguous cue interpretation and a potential interpretation bias, which is sensitive to individual differences in affect-related traits.

18.
Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci ; 12(3): 527-42, 2012 Sep.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-22644760

ABSTRACT

Investigations of cognitive biases in animals are conceptually and translationally valuable because they contribute to animal welfare research and help to extend and refine our understanding of human emotional disorders, where biased information processing is a critical causal and maintenance factor. We employed the "learned helplessness" genetic rat model of depression in studying cognitive bias and its modification by environmental manipulations. Using a spatial judgment task, responses to ambiguous spatial cues were assessed before and after environmental enrichment to test whether this manipulation would cause an optimistic shift in emotional state. Twenty-four congenitally helpless and nonhelpless male rats were trained to discriminate two different locations, "rewarded" versus "aversive." After successful acquisition of this spatial discrimination, cognitive bias was probed by measuring responses to three ambiguous locations. Latencies to "reach" and to actively "choose" a goal pot were recorded alongside exploratory behaviors. An overall strain difference was observed, with helpless rats displaying longer "reach" latencies than nonhelpless rats. This implies a "pessimistic" response bias in helpless rats, underscoring their depressive-like phenotype. No strain differences were observed regarding other behavioral measures. Half of the animals were then transferred to enriched cages and retested. Environmental enrichment resulted in reduced "choose" latencies in both rat strains, associating enrichment with more optimistic interpretations of ambiguous cues. Our results emphasize the suitability of cognitive bias measurement for animal emotion assessment. They extend the methodological repertoire for characterizing complex phenotypes and bear implications for animal welfare research and for the use of animal models in preclinical research.


Subject(s)
Cognition , Depression/psychology , Depressive Disorder/psychology , Environment , Helplessness, Learned , Affect , Animals , Attention , Behavior, Animal , Disease Models, Animal , Exploratory Behavior , Male , Rats
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