Blunted activation in the reward circuitry has been associated with anhedonia, the inability to experience pleasure in previously rewarding activities. In healthy individuals, reward-related activation has been found to be modulated by acute contextual factors such as induced positive mood. Accordingly, blunted reward response in anhedonia might involve a failure to appropriately modulate reward-related activation as a function of context. To test this hypothesis, 29 participants (19 females, mean age of 24.14 ± 4.61, age range 18-34), with a wide range of anhedonic symptoms, underwent functional MRI while anticipating and receiving monetary rewards, before and after a positive mood induction. Change in neural activation from before to after mood induction was quantified, and effects of anhedonia were investigated through whole-brain, ROI, and functional connectivity analyses. Contrary to hypotheses, results indicated that during reward anticipation (but not receipt), nucleus accumbens activation decreased while its connectivity with the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex increased, following positive mood induction. Critically, anhedonia modulated both effects. The unexpected finding of decreased activation to reward cues following positive mood induction is compelling as it aligns with a prominent behavioral model of the effect of positive mood on exploration of rewarding and neutral stimuli. Furthermore, the modulation of this effect by anhedonia suggests that it may be a key process altered in anhedonia.
Keywords: Anhedonia; Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; Monetary incentive delay; Nucleus accumbens; Positive mood induction; Reward.
Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Inc.