Anhedonia, the loss of motivation to engage in previously enjoyable activities, is associated with significant clinical impairment. Importantly, anhedonia is implicated in several different psychiatric disorders, presenting a promising opportunity for transdiagnostic treatment. In spite of its clinical significance, anhedonia is typically overlooked as a primary treatment target. Consequently, developing targeted treatments for anhedonia is of critical importance for population mental health. The present proposal aims to address this critical need by clarifying network-level neural dysfunction in a transdiagnostic anhedonia sample, with the long-term goal of identifying potential treatment targets. Specifically, the proposed project will take a graph-theoretical approach to address the following specific aims: (1) establish how brain network segregation and integration during the anticipation of rewards predict anhedonic symptom severity, and (2) assess how variability in network reconfiguration when transitioning from rest to reward anticipation contributes to anhedonic symptom severity. The proposed analyses will utilize already collected baseline neuroimaging and self-report data from a NIMH contract (#HHSN271201200006I; PI: Andrew Krystal, MD). The applicant?s long-term career goal is to conduct translational research utilizing novel, transdiagnostic methods to examine the neural indices of reward- processing and their associated clinical implications with the overall target of developing mechanistically driven treatments. As such, the proposed project will provide mentored training with the overall goal of deepening the applicant?s interdisciplinary training, bridging the gap between clinical psychology and cognitive neuroscience. Specific training goals include: (1) extensive training in advanced brain network analytic techniques, and graph- theoretical approaches, (2) enhanced understanding of evidence-based clinical research relevant to anhedonia, (3) bolstering the applicant?s grant-writing and presentation skills as well as building her publication record, (4) practical and applied training in clinical trial design and management, and (5) further training in ethical issues in psychology and the responsible conduct of research. This training plan and research proposal have been strategically developed to foster the applicant?s independence as a researcher and equip her with a specialized interdisciplinary skillset to prepare her for a successful career as a translational researcher.
The development of targeted treatments for anhedonia is of critical importance for population mental health. Findings from this study will paint a comprehensive picture of where network dynamics go awry, and how this contributes to the severity of anhedonic symptoms. These findings will lead directly to treatment development through the identification of neural treatment targets.