Abnormal error processing in depressive states
Depression has been associated with poor performance following errors, but the clinical implications, response to treatment and neurobiological mechanisms of this post-error behavioral adjustment abnormality remain unclear. To fill this gap in knowledge, we tested depressed patients in a partial hospital setting before and after treatment (cognitive behavior therapy combined with medication) using a flanker task. To evaluate the translational relevance of this metric in rodents, we performed a secondary analysis on existing data from rats tested in the 5-choice serial reaction time task after treatment with corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), a stress peptide that produces depressive-like signs in rodent models relevant to depression. In addition, to examine the effect of treatment on post-error behavior in rodents, we examined a second cohort of rodents treated with JDTic, a kappa-opioid receptor antagonist that produces antidepressant-like effects in laboratory animals. In depressed patients, baseline post-error accuracy was lower than post-correct accuracy, and, as expected, post-error accuracy improved with treatment. Moreover, baseline post-error accuracy predicted attentional control and rumination (but not depressive symptoms) after treatment. In rats, CRF significantly degraded post-error accuracy, but not post-correct accuracy, and this effect was attenuated by JDTic. Our findings demonstrate deficits in post-error accuracy in depressed patients, as well as a rodent model relevant to depression. These deficits respond to intervention in both species. Although post-error behavior predicted treatment-related changes in attentional control and rumination, a relationship to depressive symptoms remains to be demonstrated.