Subscribe: Journal of Abnormal Psychology - Vol 118, Iss 4
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Journal of Abnormal Psychology - Vol 126, Iss 1

The Journal of Abnormal Psychology publishes articles on basic research and theory in the broad field of abnormal behavior, its determinants, and its correlates. The following general topics fall within its area of major focus: (a) psychopathology—its e

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Copyright: Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association

Increased cooperative behavior across remitted bipolar I disorder and major depression: Insights utilizing a behavioral economic trust game.


Mood disorders impact social functioning, but might contribute to experiences—like affective distress—that might result in increased cooperative behavior under certain circumstances. We recruited participants with a history of bipolar I disorder (n = 28), major depressive disorder (n = 30), and healthy controls (n = 27)—to play a well-validated behavioral economic Trust Game, a task that provides a well-controlled experimental scenario, to measure cooperative behavior for the first time across both groups. Both remitted mood-disordered groups cooperated significantly more than the control group, but did not differ from one another. These results suggest that, in some contexts, a history of mood disturbance can produce enhanced cooperation, even in the absence of current mood symptoms. We discuss the clinical significance of enhanced cooperation in mood disorders and point to key directions for future research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Startle potentiation to uncertain threat as a psychophysiological indicator of fear-based psychopathology: An examination across multiple internalizing disorders.


Heightened reactivity to uncertain threat (U-threat) is an important individual difference factor that may characterize fear-based internalizing psychopathologies (IPs) and distinguish them from distress/misery IPs. To date, however, the majority of existing research examining reactivity to U-threat has been within individuals with panic disorder and major depressive disorder (MDD) and no prior study has directly tested this hypothesis across multiple IPs. The current study therefore explored whether heightened reactivity to U-threat is a psychophysiological indicator of fear-based psychopathology across 5 groups: current (a) social anxiety disorder (SAD); (b) specific phobia (SP); (c) generalized anxiety disorder (GAD); (d) MDD; and (c) individuals with no history of psychopathology (controls). All 160 adults completed a well-validated threat-of-shock task designed to probe responses to predictable (P-) and U-threat. Startle eyeblink potentiation was recorded as an index of aversive arousal. Results indicated that individuals with SAD and SP evidenced greater startle potentiation to U-threat, but not P-threat, relative to individuals with GAD, MDD, and controls (who did not differ). The current findings, along with the prior panic disorder and MDD literature, suggest that heightened reactivity to U-threat is a psychophysiological indicator of fear-based disorders and could represent a neurobiological organizing principle for internalizing psychopathology. The findings also suggest that individuals with fear disorders generally display a hypersensitivity to uncertain aversive events, which could contribute to their psychopathology. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Abnormal neural responses to feedback in depressed adolescents.


Depression rates surge in adolescence, particularly among females. Recent findings suggest that depressed adolescents are characterized by hypersensitivity to negative outcomes and blunted responsiveness to rewards. However, our understanding of the pathophysiology and time course of these abnormalities remains limited. Due to their high temporal resolution, event-related potentials (ERPs) provide an ideal probe to investigate these processes. In the present study, healthy (n = 25) and depressed (n = 26) female adolescents (13–18 years) completed a gambling task during 128-channel ERP recording. Time–domain analyses focused on ERPs linked to initial processing of negative versus rewarding outcomes (feedback-related negativity; FRN), and later, elaborative processing (late positive potential; LPP). Additionally, time–frequency analyses were used to decompose the FRN into its 2 constituent neural signals: loss-related theta and reward-related delta activity, thereby allowing us to separately probe these 2 putative mechanisms underlying FRN abnormalities in depression. Relative to healthy adolescents, depressed youth showed potentiated FRN (loss vs. reward) responses. Time–frequency analyses revealed that this group difference in the FRN was driven by increased loss-related theta activity in depressed youth, and not by reward-related delta activity. For the LPP, healthy adolescents exhibited sustained positivity to rewards versus losses, whereas depressed adolescents showed the opposite pattern. Moreover, an enhanced LPP to losses was associated with rumination. In summary, the LPP may be a sensitive probe of depressive rumination, whereas FRN-linked theta activity may represent a neural marker of hypersensitivity to negative outcomes in depressed youth. Implications for treatment and future ERP research are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Weight suppression predicts bulimic symptoms at 20-year follow-up: The mediating role of drive for thinness.


Weight suppression predicts the onset and maintenance of bulimic syndromes. Despite this finding, no study has examined psychological mechanisms contributing to these associations using a longitudinal design. Given societal pressures to be thin and an actual history of higher weight, it is possible that greater weight suppression contributes to increased fear of gaining weight and preoccupation with being thin, which increase vulnerability to eating disorders. The present study investigated whether greater drive for thinness mediates associations between weight suppression and bulimic symptoms over long-term follow-up. Participants were women (n = 1,190) and men (n = 509) who completed self-report surveys in college and 10- and 20-years later. Higher weight suppression at baseline predicted higher bulimic symptoms at 20-year follow-up (p < .001), while accounting for demographic variables and baseline bulimic symptoms, body mass index, and drive for thinness. Increased drive for thinness at 10-year follow-up mediated this effect. Findings highlight the long-lasting effect of weight suppression on bulimic symptoms and suggest that preoccupation with thinness may help maintain this association. Future studies would benefit from incorporating other hypothesized consequences of weight suppression, including biological factors, into risk models. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Risk factors that predict future onset of each DSM–5 eating disorder: Predictive specificity in high-risk adolescent females.


Because no single report has examined risk factors that predict future onset each type of eating disorder and core symptom dimensions that crosscut disorders, we addressed these aims to advance knowledge regarding risk factor specificity. Data from 3 prevention trials that targeted young women with body dissatisfaction (N = 1,272; Mage = 18.5, SD = 4.2) and collected annual diagnostic interview data over 3-year follow-up were combined to identify predictors of subthreshold/threshold anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), binge eating disorder (BED), and purging disorder (PD). Negative affect and functional impairment predicted onset of all eating disorders. Thin-ideal internalization, body dissatisfaction, dieting, overeating, and mental health care predicted onset of subthreshold/threshold BN, BED, and PD; positive thinness expectations, denial of cost of pursuing the thin ideal, and fasting predicted onset of 2 of these 3 disorders. Similar risk factors predicted core eating disorder symptom onset. Low BMI and dieting specifically predicted onset of subthreshold/threshold AN or low BMI. Only a subset of factors showed unique predictive effects in multivariate models, likely due to moderate correlations between the risk factors (M r = .14). Results provide support for the theory that pursuit of the thin ideal and the resulting body dissatisfaction, dieting, and unhealthy weight control behaviors increase risk for binge/purge spectrum eating disorders, but suggest that youth who are inherently lean, rather than purposely pursuing the thin ideal, are at risk for AN. Impaired interpersonal functioning and negative affect are transdiagnostic risk factors, suggesting these factors should be targeted in prevention programs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Impaired processing of task-irrelevant salient information in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: Evidence from event-related potentials.


The current study examined the mechanisms of attention allocation in adult ADHD to investigate the frequently reported diminished target processing in ADHD as well as the less consistently observed increased distractibility by task-irrelevant distracting stimuli. To this end, while high-density EEG was recorded, 25 adults with ADHD and 23 healthy controls completed a 4-stimulus oddball task that comprised a frequently presented standard stimulus and 3 different categories of equally infrequent stimuli: task-relevant targets, task-irrelevant nontargets, and task-irrelevant unfamiliar novels. By applying specific contrasts, this allowed us to disentangle pure effects of 3 kinds of salience, namely targetness (targets vs. nontargets), deviance (nontargets vs. standards), and novelty (novels vs. nontargets). Distinct effects of targetness, deviance and novelty across several components were found. At the behavioral level, no group differences between adults with and without ADHD were observed. Contrary to our expectations, no difference between groups was found for the P3b amplitude to targets or the novelty P3 to nontargets and novels; however, in adults with ADHD a clear P3b to novels was apparent, which was absent in controls. This latter finding indicates deficient attention allocation in adults with ADHD, more specifically increased sustained processing of task-irrelevant novel events. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Narrative production in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Similarities and differences.


The present study focuses on the similarities and differences in language production between children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In addition, we investigated whether Theory of Mind (ToM), working memory, and response inhibition are associated with language production. Narratives, produced by 106 Dutch-speaking children (36 with ASD, 34 with ADHD, and 36 typically developing) aged 6 to 12 during ADOS assessment, were examined on several linguistic measures: verbal productivity, speech fluency, syntactic complexity, lexical semantics, and discourse pragmatics. Children were tested on ToM, working memory, and response inhibition and parents filled in the Children’s Communication Checklist (CCC-2). Gold-standard diagnostic measures (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schema [ADOS], Autism Diagnostic Interview Revised [ADI-R], and the Parent Interview for Child Symptoms [PICS]) were administered to all children to confirm diagnosis. Regarding similarities, both clinical groups showed impairments in narrative performance relative to typically developing children. These were confirmed by the CCC-2. These impairments were not only present on pragmatic measures, such as the inability to produce a narrative in a coherent and cohesive way, but also on syntactic complexity and their production of repetitions. As for differences, children with ADHD but not children with ASD showed problems in their choice of referring expressions and speech fluency. ToM and working memory performance but not response inhibition were associated with many narrative skills, suggesting that these cognitive mechanisms explain some of the impairments in language production. We conclude that children with ASD and children with ADHD manifest multiple and diverse language production problems, which may partly relate to their problems in ToM and working memory. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

A psychometric investigation of gender differences and common processes across borderline and antisocial personality disorders.


The comorbidity between borderline personality disorder (BPD) and antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is well-established, and the 2 disorders share many similarities. However, there are also differences across disorders: most notably, BPD is diagnosed more frequently in women and ASPD in men. We investigated if (a) comorbidity between BPD and ASPD is attributable to 2 discrete disorders or the expression of common underlying processes, and (b) if the model of comorbidity is true across sex. Using a clinical sample of 1,400 drug users in residential substance abuse treatment, we tested 3 competing models to explore whether the comorbidity of ASPD and BPD should be represented by a single common factor, 2 correlated factors, or a bifactor structure involving a general and disorder-specific factors. Next, we tested whether our resulting model was meaningful by examining its relationship with criterion variables previously reported to be associated with BPD and ASPD. The bifactor model provided the best fit and was invariant across sex. Overall, the general factor of the bifactor model significantly accounted for a large percentage of the variance in criterion variables, whereas the BPD and AAB specific factors added little to the models. The association of the general and specific factor with all criterion variables was equal for men and women. Our results suggest common underlying vulnerability accounts for both the comorbidity between BPD and AAB (across sex), and this common vulnerability drives the association with other psychopathology and maladaptive behavior. This in turn has implications for diagnostic classification systems and treatment. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The emotion regulation function of nonsuicidal self-injury: A momentary assessment study in inpatients with borderline personality disorder features.


Studies using retrospective self-report or proxies of nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) in the lab have shown that NSSI is often preceded by intense negative emotions and followed by a decrease in negative emotions/tension, suggesting an emotion regulation function of NSSI. To investigate this emotion regulation function of NSSI in a more ecologically valid way, we used experience sampling methods to examine the temporal relationship between NSSI behavior and emotional experiences throughout the day in 30 inpatients currently staying in psychiatric hospitals. Because NSSI is especially prevalent and severe in patients with a borderline personality disorder (BPD), we focused on patients with high levels of BPD symptomatology. Results confirmed that high levels of negative emotion prospectively predicted a higher probability of engaging in NSSI in the next time interval. However, the occurrence of NSSI itself was related to concurrent increases in negative emotion and decreases in positive emotion, and even prospectively predicted an increase in negative emotion in the consecutive time interval. These preliminary results show that on a time scale of hours, instead of resulting in emotional relief, NSSI seems to be associated with a further increase in negative emotionality, shedding light on the cyclic nature of NSSI. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Ecological momentary assessment of negative symptoms in schizophrenia: Relationships to effort-based decision making and reinforcement learning.


Negative symptoms are a core clinical feature of schizophrenia, but conceptual and methodological problems with current instruments can make their assessment challenging. One hypothesis is that current symptom assessments may be influenced by impairments in memory and may not be fully reflective of actual functioning outside of the laboratory. The present study sought to investigate the validity of assessing negative symptoms using ecological momentary assessment (EMA). Participants with schizophrenia (N = 31) completed electronic questionnaires on smartphones 4 times a day for 1 week. Participants also completed effort-based decision making and reinforcement learning (RL) tasks to assess the relationship between EMA and laboratory measures, which tap into negative symptom relevant domains. Hierarchical linear modeling analyses revealed that clinician-rated and self-report measures of negative symptoms were significantly related to negative symptoms assessed via EMA. However, working memory moderated the relationship between EMA and retrospective measures of negative symptoms, such that there was a stronger relationship between EMA and retrospective negative symptom measures among individuals with better working memory. The authors also found that negative symptoms assessed via EMA were related to poor performance on the effort task, whereas clinician-rated symptoms and self-reports were not. Further, they found that negative symptoms were related to poorer performance on learning reward contingencies. The findings suggest that negative symptoms can be assessed through EMA and that working memory impairments frequently seen in schizophrenia may affect recall of symptoms. Moreover, these findings suggest the importance of examining the relationship between laboratory tasks and symptoms assessed during daily life. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Hyperfocusing of attention on goal-related information in schizophrenia: Evidence from electrophysiology.


Schizophrenia clearly involves impairments of attention, but the precise nature of these impairments has been difficult to determine. One possibility is that the deficit in attention is a secondary consequence of a deficit in goal maintenance. However, recent research suggests that people with schizophrenia (PSZ) actually focus attention more strongly on objects containing goal-relevant features. To test these competing hypotheses, we recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) from PSZ (N = 20) and healthy control subjects (HCS; N = 20) while they looked for a particular target color at fixation and tried to ignore lateral distractors that sometimes matched the target color (target-color distractors). Goal maintenance was made trivially easy by the continual presentation of a goal reminder. We found that HCS were able to successfully suppress target-color distractors (leading to a distractor positivity ERP component), whereas PSZ focused attention on these items (leading to an N2-posterior-contralateral ERP component). This suggests that, when maintaining a task set, PSZ engage in aberrant focusing of attention, or hyperfocusing, on goal-relevant features. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Chronic cannabis use is associated with impaired fear extinction in humans.


The use of fear conditioning and extinction paradigms to examine intermediate phenotypes of anxiety and stress-related disorders has facilitated the identification of neurobiological mechanisms that underlie specific components of abnormal psychological functioning. Across species, acute pharmacologic manipulation of the endogenous cannabinoid system has provided evidence of its critical role in fear extinction, but the effects of chronic cannabis on extinction are relatively understudied. In rats, chronic cannabinoid administration impairs fear extinction in a drug-free state. Here we examine whether chronic cannabis use is associated with impaired fear extinction in humans. Participants were healthy chronic cannabis users (n = 20) and nonuser controls with minimal lifetime cannabis use (n = 20) matched on age, sex, and race who all screened negative for psychiatric disorders. A 2-day differential fear conditioning paradigm was used to test the hypothesis that chronic cannabis use would be associated with impaired extinction of the skin conductance response. Consistent with hypotheses, chronic cannabis use was associated with reduced within-session extinction of skin conductance response on Day 1 (d = 0.78), and between-session extinction on Day 2 (d = 0.76). Unexpectedly, cannabis use was also associated with reduced subjective differentiation between threat and safety stimuli during conditioning. Replication and translation of findings are necessary to test potential mechanisms directly and examine whether impairments can be reversed pharmacologically or after a period of cannabis abstinence. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Suicidal ideation in transgender people: Gender minority stress and interpersonal theory factors.


Research has revealed alarmingly high rates of suicidal ideation (SI) and suicide attempts among transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) people. This study aims to analyze the role of factors from the gender minority stress and resilience (GMSR) model (Testa, Habarth, Peta, Balsam, & Bockting, 2015), the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicide (IPTS; Joiner, 2005; Van Orden et al., 2010), and the potential integration of these factors, in explaining SI in this population. A convenience sample of 816 TGNC adults responded to measures of current SI, gender minority stressors, and IPTS factors. Path analysis was utilized to test 2 models. Model 1 evaluated the associations between external minority stressors and SI through internal minority stressors. Model 2 examined the relationships between internal minority stressors and SI through IPTS variables (perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness). All GMSR external stressors (rejection, nonaffirmation, victimization, and discrimination), internal stressors (internalized transphobia, negative expectations, and nondisclosure), and IPTS factors (thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness) were related to SI. Both models demonstrated good fit. Model 1 revealed that rejection, nonaffirmation, and victimization were related to SI through experiences of internalized transphobia and negative expectations. Model 2 indicated that internalized transphobia and negative expectations were associated with SI through IPTS factors. The models demonstrate pathways through which GMSR and IPTS constructs relate to one another and confer risk for SI among TGNC individuals. These pathways and several recently proposed constructs examined here provide promising directions for future research and clinical interventions in this area. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

“Neurobehavioral markers of resilience to depression amongst adolescents exposed to child abuse”: Correction to Dennison et al. (2016).


Reports an error in "Neurobehavioral markers of resilience to depression amongst adolescents exposed to child abuse" by Meg J. Dennison, Margaret A. Sheridan, Daniel S. Busso, Jessica L. Jenness, Matthew Peverill, Maya L. Rosen and Katie A. McLaughlin (Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 2016[Nov], Vol 125[8], 1201-1212). In the article there was an error in the title. The word “Adolescents” was singular. The online version of this article has been corrected. (The following abstract of the original article appeared in record 2016-52992-014.) Childhood maltreatment is strongly associated with depression, which is characterized by reduced reactivity to reward. Identifying factors that mitigate risk for depression in maltreated children is important for understanding etiological links between maltreatment and depression as well as improving early intervention and prevention. We examine whether high reward reactivity at behavioral and neurobiological levels is a marker of resilience to depressive symptomology in adolescence following childhood maltreatment. A sample of 59 adolescents (21 with a history of maltreatment; Mean Age = 16.95 years, SD = 1.44) completed an fMRI task involving passive viewing of emotional stimuli. BOLD signal changes to positive relative to neutral images were extracted in basal ganglia regions of interest. Participants also completed a behavioral reward-processing task outside the scanner. Depression symptoms were assessed at the time of the MRI and again 2 years later. Greater reward reactivity across behavioral and neurobiological measures moderated the association of maltreatment with baseline depression. Specifically, faster reaction time (RT) to cues paired with monetary reward relative to those unpaired with reward and greater BOLD signal in the left pallidum was associated with lower depression symptoms in maltreated youth. Longitudinally, greater BOLD signal in the left putamen moderated change in depression scores over time, such that higher levels of reward response were associated with lower increases in depression over time among maltreated youths. Reactivity to monetary reward and positive social images, at both behavioral and neurobiological levels, is a potential marker of resilience to depression among adolescents exposed to maltreatment. These findings add to a growing body of work highlighting individual differences in reactivity to reward as a core neurodevelopmental mechanism in the etiology of depression. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

A general psychopathology factor (P factor) in children: Structural model analysis and external validation through familial risk and child global executive function.


High rates of comorbidities and poor validity of disorder diagnostic criteria for mental disorders hamper advances in mental health research. Recent work has suggested the utility of continuous cross-cutting dimensions, including general psychopathology and specific factors of externalizing and internalizing (e.g., distress and fear) syndromes. The current study evaluated the reliability of competing structural models of psychopathology and examined external validity of the best fitting model on the basis of family risk and child global executive function (EF). A community sample of 8,012 families from Brazil with children ages 6–12 years completed structured interviews about the child and parental psychiatric syndromes, and a subsample of 2,395 children completed tasks assessing EF (i.e., working memory, inhibitory control, and time processing). Confirmatory factor analyses tested a series of structural models of psychopathology in both parents and children. The model with a general psychopathology factor (“P factor”) with 3 specific factors (fear, distress, and externalizing) exhibited the best fit. The general P factor accounted for most of the variance in all models, with little residual variance explained by each of the 3 specific factors. In addition, associations between child and parental factors were mainly significant for the P factors and nonsignificant for the specific factors from the respective models. Likewise, the child P factor—but not the specific factors—was significantly associated with global child EF. Overall, our results provide support for a latent overarching P factor characterizing child psychopathology, supported by familial associations and child EF. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)