The Neurobiology Of Motivational Deficits In Depression – An Update On Candidate Pathomechanisms

Research Summary | September 11, 2017

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Key Messages

  • Anhedonia is closely associated with depression. Two important components of anhedonia are impairments in motivation and reinforcement learning.
  • Evidence suggested that patients with depression tend to show reduced motivation to expend effort for rewards, particularly when depressive episodes are prolonged, and may demonstrate reduced capacity for reinforcement learning.
  • The literature implicated the dopaminergic pathway in motivation and reinforcement learning.
  • Possible candidate mechanisms that may contribute to impairments in motivational and reinforcement learning in depressed patients include inflammation and impaired synaptic plasticity.

The following is a summary of Treadway MT. The neurobiology of motivational deficits in depression – an update on candidate pathomechanisms. Curr Topics Behav Neurosci. 2016;27:337-55, which was developed independently of the article author. Background Anhedonia, a psychological state closely associated with depression, is characterized by a near complete lack of positive emotionality, particularly with…

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