Graduation Year

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Jonathan Rottenberg

Keywords

emotion regulation, late positive potential, major depression, mood disorders, reappraisal

Abstract

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is thought to be characterized by emotion regulation deficits, including decreased use of adaptive strategies such as reappraisal, but little is known about the exact nature of these deficits and whether or not they are specific to the depressed mood state. The late positive potential (LPP) is a sustained positive deflection of the event-related potential (ERP) associated with responding to emotionally-valenced stimuli, and reappraisal strategies have been found to reduce LPP magnitude in response to emotional stimuli in healthy individuals, but this effect has not been examined in MDD. This study utilized ERPs to examine emotional reactivity to positive and negative pictures during passive viewing and a reappraisal condition in a sample 25 of individuals with current MDD, 26 with remitted depression (RMD), and 26 healthy controls. The LPP was greater for passive viewing of positive and negative relative to neutral pictures in all groups, with no significant group findings emerging. For positive pictures, all groups showed reduced LPP's for positive reappraisal relative to passive viewing with no group by condition interactions. For negative pictures, both the MDD and RMD groups exhibited abnormalities, with the MDD group failing to show a reduction in LPP for reappraised pictures relative to passive viewing and the RMD group demonstrating an unexpected increase in LPP magnitude for reappraised negative pictures. The LPP for emotional pictures and reappraisal instructions may reveal deficits in emotional reactivity and regulation among mood-disordered individuals, particularly for negative stimuli, and may suggest targets for clinical intervention.

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