Development of a Novel Transdiagnostic Intervention for Anhedonia - R33 Phase

  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Updated on 18 August 2022


The overall goal of this project is to develop a novel transdiagnostic treatment for anhedonia, called Behavioral Activation Treatment for Anhedonia (BATA), using ultra-high field functional neuroimaging. There is a critical need for a validated treatment that specifically targets anhedonia, and this project will evaluate the effects of this new treatment on anhedonia and will establish how this treatment impacts brain systems that mediate reward processing, clinical symptoms of anhedonia, functional outcomes, and behavioral indices of reward processing. This work will also identify brain targets by which future novel anhedonia treatment may be evaluated.


Deficits in motivation and pleasure, together referred to as anhedonia, are implicated in a number of psychiatric illnesses, including mood and anxiety disorders, substance-use disorders, schizophrenia, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. As a result, constructs related to anhedonia are central to the NIMH Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) project. Anhedonia is often one of the most difficult psychiatric symptoms to treat and thus represents a critical endophenotype and vulnerability factor for a range of psychiatric disorders. Given the centrality of anhedonia to a large number of psychiatric disorders, improved interventions to treat motivation and pleasure are critical for these disorders. The overall goal of this R61/R33 project is to develop a novel transdiagnostic treatment for anhedonia, called Behavioral Activation Treatment for Anhedonia (BATA). This new intervention is designed to treat anhedonia by emphasizing supported engagement with personally relevant goals and reducing avoidance behaviors. Consistent with the objectives and milestones outlined in RFA-MH-16-406 ("Exploratory Clinical Trials of Novel Interventions for Mental Disorders"), in the R61 phase of this trial that lasted from June 22, 2017-July 31, 2019, the investigators proposed to use an experimental therapeutics approach to first evaluate mesocorticolimbic target engagement by this treatment in a transdiagnostic sample characterized by clinically impairing anhedonia (Aim 1). Specifically, the investigators examined the effects of this treatment, relative to an active comparison treatment, on caudate nucleus activation during reward anticipation and rostral anterior cingulate cortex activation during reward outcomes using ultra-high field (7T) functional magnetic resonance imaging. The investigators also used fMRI to determine the optimal dose of the intervention (Aim 2).

In the current R33 phase of the study, which begins recruitment 8/1/2019, the investigators plan to evaluate the effects of the optimal dose of this new treatment, versus an active comparison treatment, on anhedonic symptoms and functional outcomes (Aim 3), behavioral indicators of reward sensitivity (Aim 4), and neural indicators of reward processing (Aim 5).

Condition Anhedonia
Treatment Behavioral Activation, Mindfulness Treatment
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04036136
SponsorUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Last Modified on18 August 2022

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