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26. The relationship between tri-level symptom models of depression and anxiety and reward related brain function
Hierarchical models, such as the tri-level model, have shown a broad general factor underlying the shared features of anxiety and depression, referred to as general distress, and sub-factors that are specific to depression, referred to as anhedonia, and anxiety, referred to as fear. The present study was the first systematic investigation of the relationship between reward-related brain function and the tri-level model factors of depression and anxiety symptoms. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and symptom data were collected on a sample of 221 young adults, between the ages 18-19, who were recruited based on self-reported trait neuroticism and reward sensitivity. Reward-related brain function was assessed using the Monetary Incentive Delay (MID) task with region of interest (ROI) analysis. We report that elevated anhedonia was associated with decreased activation in the bilateral ventral striatum [r(221) =-0.13, p=.048] during reward anticipation and decreased left orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) [r(221) =-0.14, p=.04] in response to reward outcome. There were no significant associations between the reward-related brain function and either general distress or fear. Our findings highlight the potentially unique relationship between reward-related brain function and anhedonia. Furthermore, this work identifies potential targets for psychosocial and pharmacological interventions to help manage motivational deficits in depression.