Perseverative cognition in the positive valence systems: An experimental and ecological investigation

Martino Schettino, Valerio Ghezzi, Yuen Siang Ang, Jessica M. Duda, Sabrina Fagioli, Douglas S. Mennin, Diego A. Pizzagalli, Cristina Ottaviani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Perseverative cognition (PC) is a transdiagnostic risk factor that characterizes both hypomotivational (e.g., depression) and hyper-motivational (e.g., addiction) disorders; however, it has been almost exclusively studied within the context of the negative valence systems. The present study aimed to fill this gap by combining laboratory-based, computational and ecological assessments. Healthy individuals performed the Probabilistic Reward Task (PRT) before and after the induction of PC or a waiting period. Computational modeling was applied to dissociate the effects of PC on reward sensitivity and learning rate. Afterwards, participants underwent a one-week ecological momentary assessment of daily PC occurrence, as well as anticipatory and consummatory rewardrelated behavior. Induction of PC led to increased response bias on the PRT compared to waiting, likely due to an increase in learning rate but not in reward sensitivity, as suggested by computational modeling. In daily-life, PC increased the discrepancy between expected and obtained rewards (i.e., prediction error). Current converging experimental and ecological evidence suggests that PC is associated with abnormalities in the functionality of positive valence systems. Given the role of PC in the prediction, maintenance, and recurrence of psychopathology, it would be clinically valuable to extend research on this topic beyond the negative valence systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number585
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Ecological momentary assessment
  • Perseverative cognition
  • Positive valence systems
  • Probabilistic reward task
  • RDoC
  • Reward prediction error, transdiagnostic psychiatry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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