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Research Mentor and Department
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is an extremely debilitating disorder with respect to physical, psychological, and emotional functioning. In a previous study conducted by the Barch Lab, we found that the gateway symptoms, anhedonia (i.e. decreased hedonic capacity) and depressed mood, predicted the direction of emotional reactivity to positive and negative pictures. Furthermore, we found that current mood had an effect on emotional reactivity above and beyond anhedonia and depressive symptoms. The present study aims to examine the relationship between mood and the processing of affective stimuli within a large non-clinical sample. To this end, participants underwent three mood inductions (neutral, positive, and negative inductions) and were then asked to complete an Emotional Picture Rating Task (EPRT) after each induction. Inductions consisted of the participant watching a video clip that was intended to induce a neutral, positive, or negative mood. The EPRT required participants to rate the valence and arousal level of their emotional response to 30 pictures (10 negative, 10 neutral, and 10 positive pictures) from the International Affective Picture System. Each block of the EPRT contained different pictures and the order of the negative and positive inductions were counterbalanced. In addition, participants completed self-report questionnaires used to assess levels of hedonic capacity, depressive symptomology, general affect, and susceptibility to emotional change. This study aims to identify the mechanisms of which mood effects affective processing and what role this may play in MDD at both a symptomatic and holistic level.