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Multi-modal assessment of reward functioning in adolescent anhedonia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 June 2022

Laura Murray*
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA Center for Depression, Anxiety and Stress Research, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA, USA
Elana S. Israel
Affiliation:
Center for Depression, Anxiety and Stress Research, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA, USA
Emma G. Balkind
Affiliation:
Center for Depression, Anxiety and Stress Research, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA, USA
Brianna Pastro
Affiliation:
Center for Depression, Anxiety and Stress Research, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA, USA
Nathaniel Lovell-Smith
Affiliation:
Center for Depression, Anxiety and Stress Research, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA, USA
Scott E. Lukas
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
Erika E. Forbes
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Diego A. Pizzagalli
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA Center for Depression, Anxiety and Stress Research, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA, USA
Christian A. Webb
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA Center for Depression, Anxiety and Stress Research, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA, USA
*
Author for correspondence: Laura Murray, E-mail: lmurray@mclean.harvard.edu

Abstract

Background

Anhedonia is a core symptom of depression that predicts worse treatment outcomes. Dysfunction in neural reward circuits is thought to contribute to anhedonia. However, whether laboratory-based assessments of anhedonia and reward-related neural function translate to adolescents' subjective affective experiences in real-world contexts remains unclear.

Methods

We recruited a sample of adolescents (n = 82; ages 12–18; mean = 15.83) who varied in anhedonia and measured the relationships among clinician-rated and self-reported anhedonia, behaviorally assessed reward learning ability, neural response to monetary reward and loss (as assessed with functional magnetic resonance imaging), and repeated ecological momentary assessment (EMA) of positive affect (PA) and negative affect (NA) in daily life.

Results

Anhedonia was associated with lower mean PA and higher mean NA across the 5-day EMA period. Anhedonia was not related to impaired behavioral reward learning, but low PA was associated with reduced nucleus accumbens response during reward anticipation and reduced medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) response during reward outcome. Greater mean NA was associated with increased mPFC response to loss outcome.

Conclusions

Traditional laboratory-based measures of anhedonia were associated with lower subjective PA and higher subjective NA in youths' daily lives. Lower subjective PA and higher subjective NA were associated with decreased reward-related striatal functioning. Higher NA was also related to increased mPFC activity to loss. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that laboratory-based measures of anhedonia translate to real-world contexts and that subjective ratings of PA and NA may be associated with neural response to reward and loss.

Type
Original Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press

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