Reward processing and mood-related symptoms: An RDoC and translational neuroscience perspective

Robin Nusslock*, Lauren B. Alloy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

64 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background Two objectives of the NIMH Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiative are to identify (a) mechanisms that are common to multiple psychiatric disorders, and (b) mechanisms that are unique to specific psychiatric symptoms, and that reflect markers of differential risk for these symptoms. With respect to these objectives, a brain-behavior dimension that has received considerable attention and that is directly relevant to the Positive Valence Systems domain of the RDoC initiative involves reward processing. Methods The present review paper first examines the relationship between reward processing and mood-related symptoms from an RDoC perspective. We then place this work in a larger context by examining the relationship between reward processing abnormalities and psychiatric symptoms defined broadly, including mood-related symptoms, schizophrenia, and addiction. Results Our review suggests that reward hyposensitivity relates to a subtype of anhedonia characterized by motivational deficits in unipolar depression, and reward hypersensitivity relates to a cluster of hypo/manic symptoms characterized by excessive approach motivation in the context of bipolar disorder. Integrating this perspective with research on reward processing abnormalities in schizophrenia and addiction, we further argue that the principles of equifinality and multifinality may be preferable to a transdiagnostic perspective for conceptualizing the relationship between reward processing and psychiatric symptoms defined broadly. Conclusion We propose that vulnerability to either motivational anhedonia or approach-related hypo/manic symptoms involve extreme and opposite profiles of reward processing. We further propose that an equifinality and multifinality perspective may serve as a useful framework for future research on reward processing abnormalities and psychiatric symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-16
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume216
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017

Keywords

  • Anhedonia
  • Approach-motivation
  • Dopamine
  • Hypo/mania
  • RDoC
  • Reward processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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