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Neural response to pleasant stimuli in anhedonia: an fMRI study

Mitterschiffthaler, Martina T.; Kumari, Veena1 2; Malhi, Gin S.3; Brown, Richard G.2; Giampietro, Vincent P.4; Brammer, Michael J.4; Suckling, John5; Poon, Lucia6; Simmons, Andrew; Andrew, Christopher; Sharma, Tonmoy7 CA

Brain Imaging
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The aim of this study was to investigate the neural correlates of affect processing in depressed anhedonic patients and healthy controls. Whole brain functional magnetic resonance imaging scans were obtained from seven females with a diagnosis of chronic unipolar major depression and high levels of anhedonia, and seven healthy females, while they were presented with positive valence and neutral images. Patients, compared to controls, showed decreased activation in medial frontal cortex, and increased activation in inferior frontal cortex, anterior cingulate, thalamus, putamen and insula. Reduced activation in medial frontal cortex may underlie abnormal positive affect processing in patients. Increases in neural activation in putamen and thalamus, previously found in transient sadness, and anterior cingulate could point to an involvement of these structures in anhedonia.

Neuroimaging Research, Department of Neurology

1Section of Cognitive Psychopharmacology

2Department of Psychology

4Brain Image Analysis Unit, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London, UK

3School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

5Brain Mapping Unit, University of Cambridge, Department of Psychiatry, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge

6South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, London

7Clinical Neuroscience Research Centre, 7 Twisleton Court, Priory Hill, Dartford, Kent, DA1 2EN, UK

CACorresponding Author: t.sharma@psychmed.org.uk

Received 8 November 2002; accepted 11 December 2002

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.