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.
Abnormal error processing in depressive states
A translational examination in humans and rats
Beard, C., Donahue, R. J., Dillon, D. G., Van't Veer, A., Webber, C., Lee, J., ... Pizzagalli, D. A. (2015). Abnormal error processing in depressive states: A translational examination in humans and rats. Translational Psychiatry, 5, [e564]. https://doi.org/10.1038/tp.2015.54