Emotion Sensitivity of the Error-Related Negativity in Hoarding Individuals

Abstract

Emerging research suggests that hoarding individuals display atypical activation in their anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Hemodynamic studies have found a biphasic pattern of ACC activity in hoarding individuals that appears sensitive to possession-related decision-making. Electrophysiological studies suggest that hoarding individuals display a blunted error-related negativity (ERN); an event-related potential originating from the ACC that indexes error-detection. These neural abnormalities may reflect an error sensitivity in hoarding individuals as they acquire and discard, however it may also reflect the hyper-emotionality often reported by individuals who hoard. The present study aimed to examine the emotional sensitivity of the error-related negativity in hoarding individuals outside a possession-related context. Seventeen hoarding individuals and 16 healthy controls underwent continuous electroencephalography (EEG) as they completed Go/No-Go (GNGT) tasks design to elicit the ERN. Identical GNGT tasks were completed both before and after watching a negative mood induction video, and self-reported distress was measured throughout. Neither group displayed any neural effect of the negative mood induction, however the hoarding group displayed a pattern of blunted ERN consistent with previous research. This study provides additional evidence that hoarding individuals display blunted indices of error-detection outside possession-related decision-making. Future research could explore if this reflects a pathophysiology shared with other psychiatric disorders that feature a blunted ERN, and if error-detection is also abnormal as hoarding individuals acquire and discard their possessions.

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Baldwin, P.A., Whitford, T.J. & Grisham, J.R. Emotion Sensitivity of the Error-Related Negativity in Hoarding Individuals. J Psychopathol Behav Assess 41, 589–597 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-018-09716-9

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Keywords

  • Hoarding
  • EEG
  • Error-related negativity
  • Emotion