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Reward function has been described as a possible biomarker for depression however how different facets of reward processing might be related to depression symptoms in young people is not clear.

Data will be reported from one study examining the neural responses to reward and aversion in young people with depression symptoms and a second study examining the behavioural choices after rewards and punishers in a reinforcement learning task in young people with depression and anxiety symptoms.

The results from Study 1 reveal how neural activity during different phases of reward and aversion processing is related to symptoms of depression in adolescents. This work identified the pregenual cingulate anterior cortex and the insula as possible biomarkers. Study 2 revealed no groups differences in choices after previous rewards but that young people with depression and anxiety improved their behaviour after punishment compared to controls.

Future work needs to assess if neural and behavioural responses to reward and punishment we have identified can predict depression symptom onset and treatment response in young people