Evaluation of contingencies and conditional probabilities - A psychophysiological approach to anhedonia

Werner Lutzenberger, Niels Birbaumer, Brigitte Rockstroh, Thomas Elbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Slow brain potentials, evoked potentials and autonomic responses were investigated in anhedonic subjects and controls. The distribution of physical anhedonia (PA) scores from different samples (students, soldiers, schizophrenics, depressives) is compared. Within a S1-S2 reaction time paradigm, an additional, S2-similar stimulus was introduced during the anticipation interval in 50% of trials (pseudorandom). Subjects had to press the button only to the S2. The additional stimulus (AS) elicits a distinct positive deflection. Anhedonics show larger pre-AS negativity and less reduction in negativity after the S2 (PINV) than controls. The slow wave to S1 as well as the pre-AS negativity vary with the conditional probability of the AS, but to a lesser extent in anhedonics. Anhedonics provide more preparatory negativity prior to and following ambiguous or difficult discrimination tasks, but at the frontal site. Results may suggest impaired contingency evaluation in anhedonic subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471-488
Number of pages18
JournalArchiv für Psychiatrie und Nervenkrankheiten Vereinigt mit Zeitschrift für die Gesamte Neurologie und Psychiatrie
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1983


  • Anhedonia
  • CNV
  • Depression
  • Event-related potentials
  • PCA
  • PINV
  • Stimulus discrimination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Medicine(all)


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