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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Behav. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2019.00189

Time-Frequency Delta Activity to Social Feedback Demonstrates Differential Associations with Depression and Social Anxiety Symptoms

  • 1Stony Brook University, United States
  • 2Temple University, United States

Social feedback is highly salient and particularly relevant when investigating the pathophysiology of depression and social anxiety. A bourgeoning body of research has demonstrated an association between reward-related delta activity and psychopathology. However, a critical limitation is that these findings are derived from neural responses to monetary feedback, and time-frequency representation of social feedback remains unexplored. In addition, no study has isolated the differential/unique associations of positive valence and the intrinsic rewarding experience of being correct with reward-related neural activity. In the present study, 204 participants underwent electroencephalography (EEG) while they completed a novel paradigm comprised of monetary and social feedback tasks that were matched in trial structure, timing, and feedback stimuli. For each task, participants were instructed to correctly identify one of two doors that would provide positive feedback (monetary win behind the door) or one of two peers who would provide positive feedback (social like); or to correctly identify the door or peer that would provide negative feedback (money loss behind the door/social dislike). A principal component analysis was conducted on the time-frequency data and revealed two factors in the delta and one factor in the theta frequency ranges. Results indicated that the lower-frequency delta factor (delta-low) was greater to correct versus incorrect feedback, more so for social versus monetary tasks, while the higher-frequency delta factor (delta-high) was greater to correct versus incorrect feedback for social like, social dislike, and monetary win tasks, but not the monetary loss task. In contrast, the theta factor was greater to incorrect relative to correct feedback in negative valence (lose money/social dislike) but not positive valence (win money/social like) tasks. Furthermore, greater delta-high activity for social feedback was associated with greater social anxiety symptoms, whereas lesser delta-high activity for social feedback was associated with greater depressive symptoms. Finally, greater theta activity to monetary feedback was associated with greater depressive symptoms. The present study provides novel evidence demonstrating unique social versus monetary feedback-related delta and theta activity, and differential associations between delta activity with depression and social anxiety symptoms. These findings highlight the importance of investigating feedback-related neural responses in the social domain.

Keywords: Time-frequency (TF), delta, theta, social feedback processing, social anxiety, Depression

Received: 11 Apr 2019; Accepted: 06 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Jin, Sabharwal, Infantolino, Jarcho and Nelson. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Jingwen Jin, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, United States,