Acute tryptophan depletion (ATD) in currently depressed patients has no immediate effect on symptoms, but leads to transient symptom improvement or worsening the next day. In view of recent findings concerning the cognitive effects of serotonin manipulations, we used ATD in fourteen depressed patients to investigate whether cognitive effects following ATD predict symptom changes. We found that symptom improvement 24h after ATD was associated with an improved recall of positive words and with less attentional bias and recall of negative words, 5h after ATD. These results indicate that serotonergic alterations affect emotional processing which may subsequently lead to symptom changes.
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