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Publication Detail
Pleasure, Reward Value, Prediction Error and Anhedonia.
Abstract
In order to develop effective treatments for anhedonia we need to understand its underlying neurobiological mechanisms. Anhedonia is conceptually strongly linked to reward processing, which involves a variety of cognitive and neural operations. This chapter reviews the evidence for impairments in experiencing hedonic response (pleasure), reward valuation and reward learning based on outcomes (commonly conceptualised in terms of "reward prediction error"). Synthesising behavioural and neuroimaging findings, we examine case-control studies of patients with depression and schizophrenia, including those focusing specifically on anhedonia. Overall, there is reliable evidence that depression and schizophrenia are associated with disrupted reward processing. In contrast to the historical definition of anhedonia, there is surprisingly limited evidence for impairment in the ability to experience pleasure in depression and schizophrenia. There is some evidence that learning about reward and reward prediction error signals are impaired in depression and schizophrenia, but the literature is inconsistent. The strongest evidence is for impairments in the representation of reward value and how this is used to guide action. Future studies would benefit from focusing on impairments in reward processing specifically in anhedonic samples, including transdiagnostically, and from using designs separating different components of reward processing, formulating them in computational terms, and moving beyond cross-sectional designs to provide an assessment of causality.
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Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
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