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DEPRESSION AND ANHEDONIA

Anhedonia - the inability to feel pleasure from normally pleasurable experiences - is a primary sign of depression and a feature of schizophrenia. Unlike those of us who have our bad days but cheer up when given tea and sympathy (or something equivalent), people with anhedonia remain unable to feel enjoy experiences which they may otherwise find pleasurable.

In the Clinical Neuroscience Research Centre, a study of anhedonia is exploring brain regions that respond to a range of emotive stimuli. Researchers are showing film clips and slides to invoke emotions in people while they are undergoing an fMRI scan.

If people with depression and anhedonia will show difference patterns of activity from those who respond positively to the images, it could give us some clues to the 'pleasure response' in the brain. Finding the neural correlates of depression may also help to distinguish people with clinical depression from people who are feeling just a little unhappy. In terms of treatment, it may lead to the development of more targeted therapies and ways of predicting treatment responses.