Social-economical decision making in current and remitted major depression.
Pulcu E., Thomas EJ., Trotter PD., McFarquhar M., Juhasz G., Sahakian BJ., Deakin JFW., Anderson IM., Zahn R., Elliott R.
BACKGROUND: Prosocial emotions related to self-blame are important in guiding human altruistic decisions. These emotions are elevated in major depressive disorder (MDD), such that MDD has been associated with guilt-driven pathological hyper-altruism. However, the impact of such emotional impairments in MDD on different types of social decision-making is unknown. METHOD: In order to address this issue, we investigated different kinds of altruistic behaviour (interpersonal cooperation and fund allocation, altruistic punishment and charitable donation) in 33 healthy subjects, 35 patients in full remission (unmedicated) and 24 currently depressed patients (11 on medication) using behavioural-economical paradigms. RESULTS: We show a significant main effect of clinical status on altruistic decisions (p = 0.04) and a significant interaction between clinical status and type of altruistic decisions (p = 0.03). More specifically, symptomatic patients defected significantly more in the Prisoner's Dilemma game (p