Dopamine, depressive symptoms, and decision-making: the relationship between spontaneous eye blink rate and depressive symptoms predicts Iowa Gambling Task performance Academic Article uri icon


  • Depressive symptomatology has been associated with alterations in decision-making, although conclusions have been mixed, with depressed individuals showing impairments in some contexts but advantages in others. The dopaminergic system may link depressive symptoms with decision-making performance. We assessed the role of striatal dopamine D2 receptor density, using spontaneous eye blink rates, in moderating the relationship between depressive symptoms and decision-making performance in a large undergraduate sample that had not been screened for mental illness (Nā€‰=ā€‰104). The regression results revealed that eye blink rate moderated the relationship between depressive symptoms and advantageous decisions on the Iowa Gambling Task, in which individuals with more depressive symptomatology and high blink rates (higher striatal dopamine D2 receptor density) performed better on the task. Our computational modeling results demonstrated that depressive symptoms alone were associated with enhanced loss-aversive behavior, whereas individuals with high blink rates and elevated depressive symptoms tended to persevere in selecting options that led to net gains (avoiding options with net losses). These findings suggest that variation in striatal dopamine D2 receptor availability in individuals with depressive symptoms may contribute to differences in decision-making behavior.

altmetric score

  • 1.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Byrne, K. A., Norris, D. D., & Worthy, D. A.

citation count

  • 14

publication date

  • February 2016