The attribution of value-based attentional priority in individuals with depressive symptoms
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The capture of attention by stimuli previously associated with reward has been demonstrated across a wide range of studies. Such value-based attentional priority appears to be robust, and cases where reward feedback fails to modulate subsequent attention have not been reported. However, individuals differ in their sensitivity to external rewards, and such sensitivity is abnormally blunted in depression. Here, we show that depressive symptomology is accompanied by insensitivity to value-based attentional bias. We replicate attentional capture by stimuli previously associated with reward in a control sample and show that these same reward-related stimuli do not capture attention in individuals experiencing symptoms of depression. This sharp contrast in performance indicates that value-based attentional biases depend on the normal functioning of the brain's reward system and suggests that a failure to preferentially attend to reward-related information may play a role in the experience of depression.
KeywordsDepression Selective attention Reward learning
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