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Neurophysiological correlates of anhedonia in feedback processing

DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00096

Keywords: depression, anhedonia, fMRI, anterior cingulate cortex, feedback processing

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Abstract:

Disturbances in feedback processing and a dysregulation of the neural circuit in which the cingulate cortex plays a key role have been frequently observed in depression. Since depression is a heterogeneous disease, instead of focusing on the depressive state in general, this study investigated the relations between the two core symptoms of depression, i.e., depressed mood and anhedonia, and the neural correlates of feedback processing using fMRI. The focus was on the different subdivisions of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Undergraduates with varying levels of depressed mood and anhedonia performed a time-estimation task in which they received positive and negative feedback that was either valid or invalid (i.e., related vs. unrelated to actual performance). The rostral cingulate zone (RCZ), corresponding to the dorsal part of the ACC, was less active in response to feedback in more anhedonic individuals, after correcting for the influence of depressed mood, whereas the subgenual ACC was more active in these individuals. Task performance was not affected by anhedonia, however. No statistically significant effects were found for depressed mood above and beyond the effects of anhedonia. This study therefore implies that increasing levels of anhedonia involve changes in the neural circuitry underlying feedback processing.

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