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Family History of Depression and Neural Reward Sensitivity: Findings from the ABCD Study

Published:October 12, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpsc.2022.09.015

      Abstract

      BACKGROUND

      Previous studies have found that offspring of depressed parents exhibit reduced striatal reward response to anticipating and receiving rewards, suggesting this may constitute a neurobiological risk marker for depression. The present study aimed to assess whether maternal and paternal depression history have independent effects on offspring reward processing and whether greater family history density of depression is associated with increased blunting of striatal reward responses.

      METHODS

      Data from the baseline visit of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study were used. After exclusion criteria, 7233 9- and 10-year-old children (49% female) were included in analyses. Neural responses to reward anticipation and receipt in the Monetary Incentive Delay Task were examined in six striatal regions of interest. Using mixed-effect models, we evaluated the effect of maternal or paternal depression history on striatal reward response. We also evaluated the effect of family history density on reward response.

      RESULTS

      Across all six striatal ROIs, neither maternal nor paternal depression significantly predicted blunted response to reward anticipation or feedback. Contrary to hypotheses, paternal depression history was associated with increased response in the left caudate during anticipation and maternal depression history was associated with increased response in the left putamen during feedback. Family history density was not associated with striatal reward response.

      CONCLUSION

      Our findings suggest that family history of depression is not strongly associated with blunted striatal reward response in 9- and 10-year-old children. Factors contributing to heterogeneity across studies need to be examined in future research to reconcile these results with past findings.

      Keywords

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