Anhedonia – the loss of pleasure or lack of reactivity to pleasurable stimuli – is a core symptom of depression and a potential risk factor for various forms of psychopathology. Few studies to date have employed parallel approaches to study anhedonia across species. Further, although preclinical data have emphasized stress-mediated disturbances of mesocorticolimbic dopaminergic functions in the pathophysiology of depression and anhedonia, the mechanisms and substrates underlying these processes are largely unknown in humans. Findings from recent studies in Dr. Pizzagalli’s laboratory combining behavioral, functional neuroimaging, and molecular imaging to study the neurobiology of anhedonia will be reviewed. Collectively, these findings indicate that depression is characterized by dysfunction in brain reward pathways. The potential implications of these findings for treatment development and stratification will be discussed.

Diego Pizzagalli

McLean Hospital
Director, McLean Imaging Center
Director, Center for Depression, Anxiety and Stress Research
Director, Laboratory for Translational and Affective Neuroscience
Director of Research, Division of Depression and Anxiety Disorders

Harvard Medical School
Professor of Psychiatry


Diego Pizzagalli – Translational and Cross-Species Approaches to Anhedonia: Implications for Treatment Development and Stratification