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Pleasures of the brain: Investigating anhedonia with whole-brain computational connectomics

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  • UserProfessor Morten L. Kringelbach Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, University of Oxford, United Kingdom Department of Clinical Medicine - Center for Music In the Brain, Aarhus University, Denmark World_link
  • ClockFriday 29 January 2016, 16:30-18:00
  • HouseGround Floor Lecture Theatre, Department of Psychology.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Louise White.

Anhedonia, the lack of pleasure, has been shown to be a critical feature of a range of neuropsychiatric disorders including MDD . Yet, it is currently measured primarily through subjective self-reports and as such has been difficult to submit to rigorous scientific analysis. New insights from affective neuroscience hold considerable promise in improving our understanding of anhedonia and for providing useful objective behavioral measures to complement traditional self-report measures, potentially leading to better diagnoses and novel treatments. Reviewing the state-of-the-art of hedonia research and specifically the established mechanisms of wanting, liking, and learning, we propose to conceptualize anhedonia as impairments in some or all of these processes; thereby departing from the longstanding view of anhedonia as solely reduced subjective experience of pleasure. We discuss how deficits in each of the reward components can lead to different expressions, or subtypes, of anhedonia affording novel ways of measurement. Specifically, we review evidence suggesting that patients suffering from depression and schizophrenia show impairments in wanting and learning, while some aspects of conscious liking seem surprisingly intact. We show how advances in whole-brain computational modelling can help stratify the heterogeneity of anhedonia across neuropsychiatric disorders, depending on which parts of the pleasure networks are most affected. This in turn has implications for diagnosis and treatment of anhedonia.

Short bio: Professor Morten L Kringelbach is the director of Hedonia Research Group based at the universities of Oxford and Aarhus. His research seeks to understand the pleasure systems (hedonia) in the human brain in health and disease to increase well-being (eudaimonia). This pursuit requires a multidisciplinary and transnational approach using tools from neuropsychiatry, neuroimaging, neurosurgery, psychology, philosophy, anthropology and computer science. Professor Kringelbach is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, on the editorial board of Social Neuroscience and a member of the advisory board of Scientific American. He has published fourteen books, and over 250 scientific papers, chapters and other articles.

This talk is part of the Zangwill Club series.

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