Intact Motivation in Major Depression: Normative Responsiveness to Action-Effectiveness Demonstrated in a Clinical Sample

57 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2019

See all articles by Shirel Bakbani-Elkayam

Shirel Bakbani-Elkayam

University of Haifa - Department of Psychology

Tohar Dolev-Amit

University of Haifa

Eitan Hemed

University of Haifa - Department of Psychology

Sigal Zilcha-Mano

University of Haifa - Department of Psychology

Baruch Eitam

University of Haifa - Department of Psychology

Date Written: October 18, 2019

Abstract

Ultimately, motivation enables survival through goal-directed behaviour and is evident through the direction and force of action. While a plethora of candidate responses are generated by the brain, response-selection mechanisms are responsible for evaluating and selecting the most adaptive course of action given the current context.

Although motivation is known to be modulated by tangible rewards (such as food or monetary gain), substantial evidence has accumulated to suggest that both the direction and speed of responding can be modulated by feedback indicating mere influence over the environment or 'pure effectiveness' (e.g., Hemed et al., in press; Wen et al., 2018).

In general, clinically depressed individuals are characterized as being less-motivated and less-active, both motorically and mentally (Sobin & Sackeim, 1997). The current study examines whether people diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) are similarly sensitive to (and are motivated by) effectiveness-feedback as healthy individuals are.

Clinically depressed participants (N=75) performed a task in which their responses either led to action-effects or did not (i.e. effectiveness-feedback). The results show that effectiveness-feedback motivated individuals suffering from MDD, at least as strong as previously established in healthy individuals.

These results suggest that the motivational system is fully activated by relevant effectiveness-feedback in MDD and imply that the motivational deficit in this condition is either limited to an outcome or goal-relevant feedback or other desired-outcome related processes. A more radical conclusion would be that a motivational deficit per-se is not a defining feature of this condition.

Keywords: Motivation, Depression, Sense of Agency

Suggested Citation

Bakbani-Elkayam, Shirel and Dolev-Amit, Tohar and Hemed, Eitan and Zilcha, Sigal and Eitam, Baruch, Intact Motivation in Major Depression: Normative Responsiveness to Action-Effectiveness Demonstrated in a Clinical Sample (October 18, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3472084 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3472084

Shirel Bakbani-Elkayam

University of Haifa - Department of Psychology ( email )

Complex, Room 7080
Mount Carmel Haifa, 3498838
Israel

Tohar Dolev-Amit

University of Haifa ( email )

Mount Carmel
Haifa, 31905
Israel

Eitan Hemed

University of Haifa - Department of Psychology ( email )

Complex, Room 7080
Mount Carmel Haifa, 3498838
Israel

Sigal Zilcha

University of Haifa - Department of Psychology ( email )

Complex, Room 7080
Mount Carmel Haifa, 3498838
Israel

Baruch Eitam (Contact Author)

University of Haifa - Department of Psychology ( email )

Complex, Room 7080
Mount Carmel Haifa, 3498838
Israel

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