Valuation in major depression is intact and stable in a non-learning environment


The clinical diagnosis and symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD) have been closely associated with impairments in reward processing. In particular, various studies have shown blunted neural and behavioral responses to the experience of reward in depression. However, little is known about whether depression affects individuals’ valuation of potential rewards during decision-making, independent from reward experience. To address this question, we used a gambling task and a model-based analytic approach to measure two types of individual sensitivity to reward values in participants with MDD: ‘risk preference,’ indicating how objective values are subjectively perceived, and ‘inverse temperature,’ determining the degree to which subjective value differences between options influence participants’ choices. On both of these measures of value sensitivity, participants with MDD were comparable to nonpsychiatric controls. In addition, both risk preference and inverse temperature were stable over four laboratory visits and comparable between the groups at each visit. Neither valuation measure varied with severity of clinical symptoms in MDD. These data suggest intact and stable value processing in MDD during risky decision-making.