Mood disorders: neurocognitive models

Gin S. Malhi*, Yulisha Byrow, Kristina Fritz, Pritha Das, Bernhard T. Baune, Richard J. Porter, Tim Outhred

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: In recent years, a number of neurocognitive models stemming from psychiatry and psychology schools of thought have conceptualized the pathophysiology of mood disorders in terms of dysfunctional neural mechanisms that underpin and drive neurocognitive processes. Though these models have been useful for advancing our theoretical understanding and facilitating important lines of research, translation of these models and their application within the clinical arena have been limited-partly because of lack of integration and synthesis. Cognitive neuroscience provides a novel perspective for understanding and modeling mood disorders. This selective review of influential neurocognitive models develops an integrative approach that can serve as a template for future research and the development of a clinically meaningful framework for investigating, diagnosing, and treating mood disorders. Methods: A selective literature search was conducted using PubMed and PsychINFO to identify prominent neurobiological and neurocognitive models of mood disorders. Results: Most models identify similar neural networks and brain regions and neuropsychological processes in the neurocognition of mood, however, they differ in terms of specific functions attached to neural processes and how these interact. Furthermore, cognitive biases, reward processing and motivation, rumination, and mood stability, which play significant roles in the manner in which attention, appraisal, and response processes are deployed in mood disorders, are not sufficiently integrated. The inclusion of interactions between these additional components enhances our understanding of the etiology and pathophysiology of mood disorders. Conclusions: Through integration of key cognitive functions and understanding of how these interface with neural functioning within neurocognitive models of mood disorders, a framework for research can be created for translation to diagnosis and treatment of mood disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-20
Number of pages18
JournalBipolar Disorders
Issue numberS2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Bipolar disorder
  • Cognition
  • Emotion
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Mood disorders
  • Neural
  • Neurocognition
  • Pathophysiology


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