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Anhedonia and Adolescent Depression

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Adolescence is a period of change that crucially increases vulnerability to depression. Studies report blunted neural responses to reward that relate to positive affect and depression symptoms in adolescents. However how these results relate to the symptom of anhedonia in adolescents is not entirely clear. We have been examining how the brain responds to reward and aversion in those at risk of depression and adolescents with depression and anhedonia symptoms. We use an fMRI task measuring the different components of reward and aversion processing such as the anticipation and consummation of reward. More recently we have also begun to measure effort for reward as a proxy for motivational deficits in depression. Our work shows that there are blunted brain responses to reward and aversion in adolescents with symptoms of depression. We also find there is reduced physical effort for reward in those with symptoms compared to controls. Finally we also show how the dimensional experience of anhedonia correlates with neural responses and effort for reward and aversion in adolescents. We discuss the shortcomings of the current literature on anhedonia in adolescent depression and suggest how the links between the experience of anhedonia in adolescent depression and the behavioural and neural measures of reward could be improved.

Biblio: Ciara McCabe is an Associate Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Reading (Head: Neuroimaging of Reward Group: NRG ). She examines human reward dysfunction in depression and the effects of antidepressant treatments on the neural response to reward. In 2008 she was awarded a British Association of Psychopharmacology, (BAP) Lilly Fellowship and in 2010 she was awarded a European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) Fellowship Award in Amsterdam. In 2012 she was awarded The International College of Neuropsychopharmacology (CINP) Rafaelsen Young Investigator’s Award, as part of the biannual meeting in Stockholm. In 2014 she received a University of Reading Celebrating Success Award. Ciara also received an In‐vivo Training Initiative Award from the BAP in 2014 and 2015. Ciara has recently received the Senior Non‐ Clinical Psychopharmacology Award from BAP in 2015. Ciara is active in public engagement and has appeared on TV (Channel 4 Dispatches and BBC1 ) and on Radio talking about her work on depression. She has also appeared in print (e.g. The Guardian). In 2014 she spoke at the Cheltenham Science Festival and the Institute of Physics Public Lecture series and will talk at SciBar in Oxford, Cafe Scientific in Reading and at the University of Reading Public Lecture series in 2015 about her work on the neurobiology of depression and anti‐depressant treatment.

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