Anhedonia, or the loss of pleasure in previously rewarding stimuli, is a core symptom of major depressive disorder that may reflect an underlying dysregulation in reward processing. The mesolimbic dopamine circuit, also known as the brain’s reward circuit, is integral to processing the rewarding salience of stimuli to guide actions. Manifestation of anhedonia and associated depression symptoms, like feelings of sadness, changes in appetite, and psychomotor effects, may reflect changes in the brain reward circuitry as a common underlying disease process. This review will synthesize the recent literature from human and rodent studies providing a circuit-level framework for understanding anhedonia in depression, with emphasis on the nucleus accumbens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-153
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Behavioral Neuroscience Reports
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2015


  • Anhedonia
  • Chronic social defeat stress
  • Depression
  • Dopamine
  • Medium spiny neuron
  • Nucleus accumbens
  • Optogenetics
  • Reward circuitry


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