Authors: Chong Chen, Yasuhiro Mochizuki, Kosuke Hagiwara, Masako Hirotsu, Toshio Matsubara, Shin Nakagawa

Title: Computational markers of experience- but not description-based decision-making are associated with future depressive symptoms in young adults (経験に基づく意思決定の計算論的指標による抑うつ症状の早期予測)

Journal(書誌情報): Journal of Psychiatric Research. 2022, 154, 307-314

doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2022.08.003


Abstract: Background: Early prediction of high depressive symptoms is crucial for selective intervention and the minimization of functional impairment. Recent cross-sectional studies indicated decision-making deficits in depression, which may be an important contributor to the disorder. Our goal was to test whether description- and experience-based decision making, two major neuroeconomic paradigms of decision-making under uncertainty, predict future depressive symptoms in young adults. Methods: One hundred young adults performed two decision-making tasks, one description-based, in which subjects chose between two gambling options given explicitly stated rewards and their probabilities, and the other experience-based, in which subjects were shown rewards but had to learn the probability of those rewards (or cue-outcome contingencies) via trial-and-error experience. We evaluated subjects’ depressive symptoms with BDI-II at baseline (T1) and half a year later (T2). Results: Comparing subjects with low versus high levels of depressive symptoms at T2 showed that the latter performed worse on the experience- but not description-based task at T1. Computational modeling of the decision-making process suggested that subjects with high levels of depressive symptoms had a more concave utility function, indicating enhanced risk aversion. Furthermore, a more concave utility function at T1 increased the odds of high depressive symptoms at T2, even after controlling depressive symptoms at T1, perceived stress at T2, and several covariates (OR=0.251, 95% CI [0.085, 0.741]). Conclusions: This is the first study to demonstrate a prospective link between experience-based decision-making and depressive symptoms. Our results suggest that enhanced risk aversion in experience-based decision-making may be an important contributor to the development of depressive symptoms.

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