Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy

Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy

Dipl.-Psych. Stefan Lüttke

Link between emotion and cognition in interpersonal appraisal processes in major depression

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is characterized by biased appraisals in information processing. For example, patients with MDD evaluate ambiguous facial expressions of emotion as more negative than healthy controls. Moreover, they often complain about a disintegration of cognition, emotion, and feelings. Even after remission, individuals report they can better reflect and regulate their cognitions but with little impact on their emotions. That is, cognitions and emotions are not adequately synchronized in patients with depressive disorders.

The Component Process Model (Scherer, 2009; Gentsch, 2014) proposes that appraisals drive peripheral response systems such as facial mimicry and lead to a coherent emotional response of the different emotion components involved (e.g. appraisal, facial expressions). Within the emotion process a stimulus passes (1) different sequential appraisal checks (stimulus’ novelty, intrinsic pleasantness, relevance, goal conduciveness, power). The result of the appraisal check (2) alters the state of each emotion component and (3) the synchronization of all emotion components lead to an emotional response.

We investigate the predictions of the component process model in patients with MDD using paradigms that activate social appraisal processes. More precisely, we expect altered appraisal checks in depressed vs. healthy subjects which can be observed in altered neural responses when processing socially relevant information. Applied methods are EEG, EMG and imaging techniques.