Translational Models of Dopaminergic Mechanisms for Motivational Deficits in Anhedonic Patients

  • Michael T. Treadway
  • David H. Zald


Anhedonia is a core symptom of multiple psychiatric disorders, the neurobiological substrates of remain poorly understood. Despite significant preclinical advances in the identification of specific sub-components of reward processing, clinical definitions of anhedonia primarily emphasize reductions in pleasure and positive emotionality, while impaired motivation is often neglected. Here, we review recent evidence suggesting that motivational deficits may reflect an important dimension of symptomatology that is discrete from traditional definitions of anhedonia in terms of both behavior and pathophysiology. In summarizing this work, we highlight the use of translational models such as effort-based decision-making as important tools for elucidating the biological basis of motivational deficits in clinical populations. Finally, we touch on some of the implications of this work for improving diagnosis and treatment.


Anhedonia Motivation Effort Depression Schizophrenia Dopamine Ventral striatum Insula 



Major Depressive Disorder




Ventral striatum


Beck Depression Inventory


Snaith-Hamilton Pleasure Scale


Fawcett-Clark Pleasure Scale


Scale of Negative Symptoms


Temporal Experience of Pleasure Scale


Effort Expenditure for Rewards Task


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Depression, Anxiety and Stress ResearchMcLean Hospital/Harvard Medical SchoolBelmontUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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