Anhedonia, decreased motivation for and sensitivity to rewarding experiences, is present in at least 1/3 of community dwelling older adults and is a feature of various psychiatric and neurological disorders, including late-life depression and Parkinson's disease. Anhedonia is associated with cognitive deficits, as well as poor clinical outcomes and increased mortality. Recent research suggests that anhedonia comprises motivational (reward wanting) and consummatory (reward liking) aspects. However, previous research on anhedonia has failed to dissociate these components, which may explain the contradictory findings in the literature. Recently, the Effort-Expenditure for Rewards Task (EEfRT) was developed in an effort to dissociate reward components in anhedonia. The EEfRT is an effort-based decision-making task that measures reward wanting, in contrast to commonly used anhedonia questionnaires, which focus on reward liking. This novel task may provide a useful measure of components of anhedonia in older adults and in different patient populations. Thus far no data is available on this task in elderly individuals, [including cognitiv and neural correlates of components of the task in young and older adults.] Given the paucity of research on the neurobiology of anhedonia, cognitive neuroscience studies using this task could fill a gap in the literature. We are developing a line of cognitive neuroscience studies examining ahedonia in community-dwelling older adults and in late-life depression and Parkinson's disease. In order to gather preliminary data for larger grant applications to fund these projects, we are proposing a study that will involve gathering pilot behavioral and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data in young and older adults performing the EEfRT task. Understanding the brain mechanisms underlying anhedonia in older adults and in different patient populations will have a translational impact by elucidating biological targets for treatment.
This study focuses on identifying brain changes associated with different aspects of anhedonia in young and older adults, and understanding if age effects the relationship between anhedonia and the brain. This area of research may lead to more targeted and effective treatment of anhedonia in older adults and in individuals with diseases characterized by anhedonia, such as depression and Parkinson's disease.
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