Reduced Hedonic Capacity/Approach Motivation Relates to Blunted Responsivity to Gain and Loss Feedback in Children

Katherine R. Luking, Jamie S. Neiman, Joan L. Luby, Deanna M. Barch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Adolescents and adults with major depressive disorder or elevated depressive symptoms show reduced reward responses and tend to show enhanced responses to negative stimuli. However, reward-related behaviors and adaptive responses to negative feedback undergo dramatic changes across puberty. Thus, key questions remain regarding how altered incentive processing relates to depressive and anhedonic symptoms in prepubertal child populations. Twenty-four nonclinical prepubertal children 7–10 years of age (15 male; 16 Caucasian) completed two signal detection tasks that assessed behavioral responsivity to candy gain and loss feedback, respectively. These tasks were based on Pizzagalli's probabilistic reward task where asymmetric feedback leads to greater bias toward the more frequently rewarded response in more hedonic or nondepressed adults. We further modified the task to create a version where incorrect responses could result in losses from an original allotment of candy. Children and parents/guardians also completed individual difference questionnaires to assess the child's depressive symptoms, general affect, and hedonic capacity/approach motivation. Regressions indicated a relation between hedonic capacity/approach motivation (child self-report) and response bias in both gain and loss tasks. No significant relations were observed between depressive (child self-report), internalizing (parent report), or externalizing symptoms (parent report) and bias in either the gain or loss task in this small sample. These results suggest that reduced hedonic capacity/approach motivation is associated with blunted responses to both gain and loss feedback in prepubertal children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)450-462
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 4 2017


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