Affective regulation of cognitive-control adjustments in remitted depressive patients after acute tryptophan depletion

Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2012 Jun;12(2):280-6. doi: 10.3758/s13415-011-0078-2.


Negative affect in healthy populations regulates the appraisal of demanding situations, which tunes subsequent effort mobilization and adjustments in cognitive control. In the present study, we hypothesized that dysphoria in depressed individuals similarly modulates this adaptation, possibly through a neural mechanism involving serotonergic regulation. We tested the effect of dysphoria induced by acute tryptophan depletion (ATD) in remitted depressed patients on conflict adaptation in a Simon task. ATD temporarily lowers the availability of the serotonin precursor L-Tryptophan and is known to increase depressive symptoms in approximately half of remitted depressed participants. We found that depressive symptoms induced by ATD were associated with increased conflict adaptation. Our finding extends recent observations implying an important role of affect in regulating conflict-driven cognitive control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Depression* / complications
  • Depression* / etiology
  • Depression* / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Reaction Time
  • Serotonin
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Tryptophan / deficiency*
  • Young Adult


  • Serotonin
  • Tryptophan