Neurocomputational mechanisms underlying maladaptive self-belief formation in depression


A core symptom of major depression is maladaptive self-beliefs. These are perpetuated by negatively biased feedback processing. Understanding the neurocomputational mechanisms of biased belief updating may help to counteract maladaptive beliefs. The present study uses functional neuroimaging to examine neural activity associated with prediction error-based learning in depression and healthy controls. We hypothesized that increasing symptom burden is associated with negatively biased self-belief formation and altered neural tracking of social feedback. Results showed that a higher symptom burden was associated with forming more negative self-beliefs and more positive beliefs about others. This bias was driven by reduced learning from positive prediction errors in depression. Neural reactivity of the insula showed increased tracking of more negative self-related prediction errors. The interplay of increased neural responsiveness to negative feedback and reduced learning from positive feedback may contribute to the persistence of maladaptive self-beliefs and, thus, the maintenance of depression.

Link to article here.

Neurocomputational Mechanisms Underlying Maladaptive Self-Belief Formation in Depression (preprint). N. Czekalla, A. Schröder, A. V. Mayer, J. Stierand, D. S. Stolz, T. Kube, I. Wilhelm-Groch, S., J. P. Klein, Krach, F.M. Paulus & L. Müller-Pinzler. 


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