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While impairments in cognitive emotional processing are key to the experience of mood disorders, little is understood of their shared and distinct features across major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BD). In this review, we discuss the similarities and differences in abnormal emotional processing associated with mood disorders across the cognitive domains of perception, attention, memory, and reward processing, with a particular focus on how these impairments relate to the clinical profile of the disorders. We consider behavioral and neuroimaging evidence, especially that of the growing consensus surrounding mood-congruent biases in cognition, in combination with state- and trait-related characteristics in an attempt to provide a more comprehensive and translational overview of mood disorders. Special consideration is given to the shared phenomenon of mood instability and its role as a potential transdiagnostic marker across the prodrome and maintenance of mood disorders.

Original publication




Journal article


CNS Spectr

Publication Date





54 - 63


Attention, bipolar disorder, cognition, major depressive disorder, memory, mood disorders, mood instability, neuroimaging, reward processing