Affective Processing Biases in Relation to Past, Current, and Future Depression in Children and Adolescents

Taban Salem, Mary A. Fristad, L. Eugene Arnold, H. Gerry Taylor, Thomas W. Frazier, Sarah M. Horwitz, Robert L. Findling, The LAMS Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The affective go/no-go (AGN) task has been used to assess affective biases in attention set-shifting and deficits in inhibitory control of emotional information among depressed youth, but results have been inconsistent. We aimed to test AGN robustness and clarify temporal relationships between depressive symptoms and affective processing in youth. Methods: We evaluated AGN performance twice (Time 1 N = 306; Time 2 N = 238) in relation to current, previous, and future depression in the same children/adolescents with depression and those without diagnoses who participated in the Longitudinal Assessment of Manic Symptoms (LAMS) study. Mixed repeated ANCOVAs were powered to detect small-medium group by valence interactions in response latency and errors. Supplemental regression analyses examined depressive symptoms as a continuous variable in relation to AGN performance. Results: No clear pattern emerged, mirroring the broader AGN literature. In primary analyses, group by valence interactions were only observed at one AGN administration; none replicated across administrations. Similarly, in regression analyses depressive symptoms had no relation to affective processing biases/deficits at AGN Time 1, though some relationships were detected between symptoms and AGN Time 2. Limitations: Relatively few youth met criteria for a depressive disorder, though analyses were appropriately powered and supplemental analyses examined depressive symptoms continuously. Comparison groups were not healthy controls at recruitment but were free from any Axis I disorder at AGN administration. Conclusions: Given the inconsistency of AGN findings, attention should be focused on tasks that provide more sensitive, robust measures of emotional information processing in depressed youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-156
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Attentional bias
  • Childhood, Adolescence, Emotion processing
  • Depression
  • Inhibitory control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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