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Title: Exploring the interaction of mind and body in depression
Author: Dunn, B.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2002
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This thesis aims to explore the interaction of mental-state and body-state representation in depression, hypothesising that the body is hypo-responsive and poorly monitored in depression. This leads to difficulty making intuitive decisions and blunting of emotional experience. A battery of neuropsychological tasks was developed, measuring emotional response to affective images, intuitive decision-making, probabilistic decision-making, mental-state monitoring and body-state monitoring and these measures were combined with psychophysiological recording of galvanic skin response and heart period response. These tasks wee administered to analogue and clinically depressed samples, to assess how information processing varies with the severity of depressive symptoms. A comparison of baseline activity in the periphery revealed that clinical depression led to a reduction in GSR whereas analogue depression led to an elevation in GSR. There were no differences in heart period response. Both the analogue and clinical samples showed a reduction in the experience of happiness to emotional images but no change in sadness. Emotional changes were to some extent related to abnormalities in body-state response, but these abnormalities were insufficient to fully differentiate between emotional states. The analogue sample was impaired at intuitive decision-making situations of uncertainty but intact on probabilistic reasoning in situations of certainty, whereas the clinical sample performed normally on both tasks. Body-state change was loosely linked to task performance but not in the way current theories suggest. An attempt to validate the somatic-marker hypothesis of decision-making (Damasio, 1994) offered very little support for the current formulation of how body-state influences reasoning. Both the analogue and clinical samples showed superior awareness of mental-state. The analogue sample was impaired in body-state monitoring; the clinical sample showed elevated subjective awareness of body-state and normal body-state monitoring performance.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available