The Role of Dopamine, Reward Learning and Prefrontal Activity in Expectation-induced Mood Enhancement (CRC289A07)

  • STATUS
    Recruiting
  • End date
    Jun 30, 2024
  • participants needed
    296
  • sponsor
    Philipps University Marburg Medical Center
Updated on 23 March 2022
Accepts healthy volunteers

Summary

Although placebo effects on depressive symptoms are well documented, the underlying mechanisms and moderating factors of expectation effects on mood and depression are poorly understood. Various studies show reduced reward processing in clinical and subclinical depression, presumably due to abnormalities in the dopamine (DA) system. Here, the investigators will test whether expectation-induced mood enhancement is mediated by endogenous DA activity and reward learning, and moderated by individual differences in depression-related personality traits. Healthy participants (N=296) will be tested for potentially relevant personality traits and given an inactive substance (placebo) or a DA D2-receptor antagonist sulpiride (400 mg) in combination with a low vs. high expectation manipulation (fully crossed 2x2 placebo design) before performing a probabilistic reinforcement learning task, an effort expenditure task, and undergo a depressed mood induction procedure. Further, EEG indices will be assessed throughout the tasks.

The investigators expect that positive expectation improves participants' reinforcement learning, increases participants' willingness to make effort in order to obtain reward, and leads to less depressive symptoms as indicated by mood ratings upon depressive mood induction. If the overall effect of positive expectations is mediated by DA, high-dose sulpiride should block expectation-induced effects, i.e., the anticipated enhanced reinforcement learning and effort expenditure as well as mood improvement in the high vs. low expectation group.

Description

The placebo effect, i.e., raising expectations towards a successful treatment by applying an inactive substance, reportedly improves therapeutic outcomes in clinical trials. Although there is supporting evidence for the neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) and reinforcement learning, i.e. learning from reward and punishment, to mediate this effect, to the knowledge of the authors, no study has tested these underpinnings yet. The objective of the present project is to investigate whether expectation-induced mood enhancement is mediated by DA activity and reward learning, and moderated by individual differences in depression-related personality traits. To this end, participants will be told to either receive a placebo (low expectation) or a medicine which is labeled as antidepressant (high expectation) that improves mood. Orthogonal to this expectation manipulation, participants actually receive either 400 mg of sulpiride (sulpiride group) or a placebo (inactive substance group). Sulpiride is a selective D2-recptor antagonist which presumably elevates DA levels in low doses and has been used as an antidepressant. However, as a part of the high expectation group's expectation manipulation, while participants are told to receive an antidepressant, the sulpiride group actually receives a dose that is presumably too high to increase DA levels and produce antidepressant effects. Rather, 400mg of sulpirid presumably leads to a blockade of dopamine receptors and may thereby block expectation placebo effects. Participants then undergo three tasks, in which behavioral and computational markers of reinforcement learning and willingness to make effort in order to obtain reward are investigated. Further, mood ratings upon depressive mood induction will be assessed. In addition to participants behavioral responses, EEG indices will be recorded throughout the tasks. Prior to testing, participants will be asked to fill out questionnaires with regard to personality traits as well as reward response. In order to assess dopamine-related plasma prolactin, the study physician will draw one blood sample (ca. 8 ml) at the beginning of the testing session (at approximately 9 a.m.) and one hour after substance intake (at approximately 10 a.m.), which presumably corresponds with the latency of the peak of the prolactin response to sulpiride. Saliva and gene samples will be collected for hypotheses that are tested in the context of the overarching collaborative research center 289 and preregistered elsewhere.

It is expected that positive expectation improves participants' reinforcement learning, increases participants' willingness to make effort in order to obtain reward, and leads to less depressive symptoms as indicated by mood ratings upon depressive mood induction. If the overall effect of positive expectations is mediated by DA, high-dose sulpiride should block expectation-induced effects, i.e., the anticipated enhanced reinforcement learning and effort expenditure as well as mood improvement in the high vs. low expectation group.

Hypotheses
  1. Expectation enhancement (high vs. low) within the placebo group is associated with lower negative mood ratings after the mood induction procedure.
  2. Expectation enhancement (high vs. low) within the placebo group enhances computationally modeled reward learning parameters and EEG markers of reward processing during the reinforcement learning task.
  3. Within the placebo group, the expectation effect on negative mood ratings mentioned in (1) is correlated with the expectation effect on reward learning parameters in the probabilistic reinforcement learning task mentioned in (2).
  4. Across the two expectation groups and within the placebo group, reward learning parameters and electrophysiological markers of reward processing are positively correlated with questionnaire measures of agentic extraversion (and negatively with self-reported depressive symptoms).
  5. In the sulpiride group, the effects described in (1), (2), and (3) are lower than in the placebo group.
  6. The prolactin response to sulpiride is correlated with the magnitude of expectation effects on reinforcement learning, negative mood, and self-reported agentic extraversion as well as depressive symptoms.
  7. High levels of the personality trait agentic extraversion (and low levels of depressive symptoms) are associated with higher expectancy effects on negative mood.

Details
Condition Placebo Effect on Mood Improvement
Treatment Placebo, Sulpiride 400 MG, High expectation manipulation, Low expectation manipulation
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT05208294
SponsorPhilipps University Marburg Medical Center
Last Modified on23 March 2022

Eligibility

Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Right-handed
Aged 18-60 years
German native speaker
Informed consent
Normal or corrected sight

Exclusion Criteria

Current pregnancy
Current or history of general medical, neurological or psychological disorders, which preclude sulpiride intake
Self-reported presence of mental disorders
Liver, kidney, and bowel disorders
Regular smoking
Reported alcohol abuse
Illegal drug intake
Regular drug intake by prescription in the past three months
Dreadlocks
BMI < 19 or > 30
Unremovable metal objects around the head
Previous knowledge of Japanese characters
Excessive caffeine intake (> 8 cups per day)
Clear my responses

How to participate?

Step 1 Connect with a study center
What happens next?
  • You can expect the study team to contact you via email or phone in the next few days.
  • Sign up as volunteer to help accelerate the development of new treatments and to get notified about similar trials.

You are contacting

Investigator Avatar

Primary Contact

site

0/250

Additional screening procedures may be conducted by the study team before you can be confirmed eligible to participate.

Learn more

If you are confirmed eligible after full screening, you will be required to understand and sign the informed consent if you decide to enroll in the study. Once enrolled you may be asked to make scheduled visits over a period of time.

Learn more

Complete your scheduled study participation activities and then you are done. You may receive summary of study results if provided by the sponsor.

Learn more

Similar trials to consider

Loading...

Browse trials for

Not finding what you're looking for?

Every year hundreds of thousands of volunteers step forward to participate in research. Sign up as a volunteer and receive email notifications when clinical trials are posted in the medical category of interest to you.

Sign up as volunteer

user name

Added by • 

 • 

Private

Reply by • Private
Loading...

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur, adipisicing elit. Ipsa vel nobis alias. Quae eveniet velit voluptate quo doloribus maxime et dicta in sequi, corporis quod. Ea, dolor eius? Dolore, vel!

  The passcode will expire in None.
Loading...

No annotations made yet

Add a private note
  • abc Select a piece of text from the left.
  • Add notes visible only to you.
  • Send it to people through a passcode protected link.
Add a private note