Reward processing dysfunctions are considered a candidate mechanism underlying anhedonia and apathy in depression. Neuroimaging studies have documented that neurofunctional alterations in mesocorticolimbic circuits may neurally mediate these dysfunctions. However, common and distinct neurofunctional alterations during motivational and hedonic evaluation of monetary and natural rewards in depression have not been systematically examined. Here, we capitalized on pre-registered neuroimaging meta-analyses to (1) establish general reward-related neural alterations in depression, (2) determine common and distinct alterations during the receipt and anticipation of monetary v. natural rewards, and, (3) characterize the differences on the behavioral, network, and molecular level. The pre-registered meta-analysis (https://osf.io/ay3r9) included 633 depressed patients and 644 healthy controls and revealed generally decreased subgenual anterior cingulate cortex and striatal reactivity toward rewards in depression. Subsequent comparative analyses indicated that monetary rewards led to decreased hedonic reactivity in the right ventral caudate while natural rewards led to decreased reactivity in the bilateral putamen in depressed individuals. These regions exhibited distinguishable profiles on the behavioral, network, and molecular level. Further analyses demonstrated that the right thalamus and left putamen showed decreased activation during the anticipation of monetary reward. The present results indicate that distinguishable neurofunctional alterations may neurally mediate reward-processing alterations in depression, in particular, with respect to monetary and natural rewards. Given that natural rewards prevail in everyday life, our findings suggest that reward-type specific interventions are warranted and challenge the generalizability of experimental tasks employing monetary incentives to capture reward dysregulations in everyday life.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Applied Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- functional magnetic resonance imaging