What is it about?

The present study demonstrates that a blunted neural response to reward predicts the occurrence of behaviorally-dependent stressful life events over the subsequent 18-months, and that this “stress generation” effect partially explains the association between neural reward dysfunction and later depression. These findings provide insight into one mechanism by which a blunted response to reward may contribute to the development of later depression.

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Why is it important?

These findings provide insight into one mechanism by which reward sensitivity is related to later symptoms of depression. They also raise the possibility of bidirectional effects between life stress and neural response to reward and loss. Stress may alter functioning of neural systems involved in processing information about reward and loss, which subsequently leads to changes in behavior that generate additional life stress, resulting in a cycle and increasing vulnerability for depression.


The current study was the first to identify a neural marker of stress generation and, importantly, provides insight into how neural processing of monetary gain and loss contribute to subsequent depression.

Mr Daniel M Mackin
Stony Brook University

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This page is a summary of: Reward processing and future life stress: Stress generation pathway to depression., Journal of Abnormal Psychology, May 2019, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/abn0000427.
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