Article

Social anhedonia and medial prefrontal response to mutual liking in late adolescents.

University of Pittsburgh, Department of Psychiatry, 3811 O’Hara St., WPIC—Loeffler 319, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, United States
Brain and Cognition (Impact Factor: 2.82). 01/2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.bandc.2013.12.004
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Anhedonia, a cardinal symptom of depression defined as difficulty experiencing pleasure, is also a possible endophenotype and prognostic factor for the development of depression. The onset of depression typically occurs during adolescence, a period in which social status and affiliation are especially salient. The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), a region implicated in reward, self-relevant processing, and social cognition, exhibits altered function in adults with anhedonia, but its association with adolescent anhedonia has yet to be investigated. We examined neural response to social reward in 27 late adolescents, 18-21years old, who varied in social anhedonia. Participants reported their social anhedonia, completed ratings of photos of unfamiliar peers, and underwent a functional magnetic resonance imaging task involving feedback about being liked. Adolescents with higher social anhedonia exhibited greater mPFC activation in response to mutual liking (i.e., being liked by someone they also liked) relative to received liking (i.e., being liked by someone whom they did not like). This association held after controlling for severity of current depressive symptoms, although depressive severity was also associated with greater mPFC response. Adolescents with higher levels of social anhedonia also had stronger positive connectivity between the nucleus accumbens and the mPFC during mutual versus received liking. These results, the first on the pathophysiology of adolescent anhedonia, support altered neural reward-circuit response to social reward in young people with social anhedonia.

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