Unipolar depression does not moderate responses to the Sweet Taste Test

Depress Anxiety. 2010 Sep;27(9):859-63. doi: 10.1002/da.20690.


Background: The Sweet Taste Test (STT) measures hedonic responses to sweet tastes and has been linked to both alcoholism and to a family history of alcoholism. However, STT response profiles in unipolar major depressive disorder (MDD), a disorder characterized by anhedonia, have been minimally investigated.

Methods: Twelve adults with and 15 adults without MDD participated in two identical STT assessments separated by approximately 12 weeks. Between assessments, MDD outpatients received Behavioral Activation Therapy for Depression, a psychotherapy modality designed to increase engagement with rewarding stimuli and reduce avoidance behaviors. Primary-dependent measures included sensitivity to sucrose, hedonic response to sucrose, and designation as a Sweet-Liker or Sweet-Disliker.

Results: A total of 75% of adults with MDD were treatment responders. There were no significant differences in STT response profiles between groups overall or at either timepoint. Furthermore, STT profiles of MDD participants did not differ after psychotherapy, relative to baseline.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that although anhedonia is a symptom of MDD, the disorder is not characterized by altered responses to sweet tastes. Implications and future directions are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bipolar Disorder / epidemiology
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology*
  • Bipolar Disorder / therapy
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychotherapy
  • Sucrose / administration & dosage*
  • Taste*
  • Young Adult


  • Sucrose