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Mapping anticipatory anhedonia: an fMRI study

Authors
  • Szczepanik, Joanna E.1, 1
  • Reed, Jessica L.1
  • Nugent, Allison C.1
  • Ballard, Elizabeth D.1
  • Evans, Jennifer W.1
  • Lejuez, Carl W.2
  • Zarate, Carlos A. Jr1
  • 1 National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA , Bethesda (United States)
  • 2 University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA , Lawrence (United States)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Brain Imaging and Behavior
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Apr 27, 2019
Volume
13
Issue
6
Pages
1624–1634
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s11682-019-00084-w
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
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Abstract

Anhedonia—broadly defined as loss of interest and/or an inability to experience pleasure—is an important feature of several psychiatric disorders. Research into the clinical presentation and neurobiology of this symptom has identified components related to motivation, learning, anticipation, and experience of pleasure as important constructs that inform therapeutic interventions. The experimental study of anhedonia is largely based on incentive processing paradigms, most often with monetary rewards, though studies have also used pleasantness ratings of various stimuli. However, linking an individual’s own system of reinforcers and ability to enjoy them with anhedonia and neural activity remains comparatively under-explored. A previous study of participants with major depressive disorder (MDD) and healthy controls found that activity word ratings correlated with measures of anhedonia, depression, and motivation. The present study collected functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) images in healthy controls while they rated activity words and pictures showing activities in order to identify networks differentially responsive to subjective decisions about the appetitive value of activities. The study sought to measure individually-relevant hedonic capacity as demonstrated by correlations between task measures and anticipatory anhedonia ratings. Ratings of potential pleasure were associated with neural activity in areas previously identified as relevant to pleasure and reward processing, such as anterior and posterior cingulate, middle frontal areas, and dorsal and ventral striatum. Although the study included only healthy controls, the results demonstrate a link between anhedonia measures, behavior, and brain responses and also test a paradigm that could be used to study anhedonia in clinical populations.

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