I don't want to come back down: Undoing versus maintaining of reward recovery in older adolescents

Kirsten E. Gilbert, Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, June Gruber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Adolescence is characterized by heightened and sometimes impairing reward sensitivity, yet less is known about how adolescents recover from highly arousing positive states. This is particularly important given high onset rates of psychopathology associated with reward sensitivity during late adolescence and early adulthood. The current study thus utilized a novel reward sensitivity task in order to examine potential ways in which older adolescent females (ages 18-21; N = 83) might recover from high arousal positive reward sensitive states. Participants underwent a fixed incentive reward sensitivity task and subsequently watched a neutral, sad, or a low approach-motivated positive emotional film clip during which subjective and physiological recovery was assessed. Results indicated that the positive and negative film conditions were associated with maintained physiological arousal while the neutral condition facilitated faster physiological recovery from the reward sensitivity task. It is interesting to note that individual differences in self-reported positive emotion during the reward task were associated with faster recovery in the neutral condition. Findings suggest elicited emotion (regardless of valence) may serve to maintain reward sensitivity whereas self-reported positive emotional experience may be a key ingredient facilitating physiological recovery or undoing. Understanding the nuances of reward recovery provides a critical step in understanding the etiology and persistence of reward dysregulation more generally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-225
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Adolescents
  • Emotional recovery
  • Positive emotion
  • Reward
  • Undoing hypothesis


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