Send to

Choose Destination
J Affect Disord. 2017 Jul;216:3-16. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2017.02.001. Epub 2017 Feb 4.

Reward processing and mood-related symptoms: An RDoC and translational neuroscience perspective.

Author information

Northwestern University, United States. Electronic address:
Temple University, United States.



Two objectives of the NIMH Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiative are to identify (a) mechanisms that are common to multiple psychiatric disorders, and (b) mechanisms that are unique to specific psychiatric symptoms, and that reflect markers of differential risk for these symptoms. With respect to these objectives, a brain-behavior dimension that has received considerable attention and that is directly relevant to the Positive Valence Systems domain of the RDoC initiative involves reward processing.


The present review paper first examines the relationship between reward processing and mood-related symptoms from an RDoC perspective. We then place this work in a larger context by examining the relationship between reward processing abnormalities and psychiatric symptoms defined broadly, including mood-related symptoms, schizophrenia, and addiction.


Our review suggests that reward hyposensitivity relates to a subtype of anhedonia characterized by motivational deficits in unipolar depression, and reward hypersensitivity relates to a cluster of hypo/manic symptoms characterized by excessive approach motivation in the context of bipolar disorder. Integrating this perspective with research on reward processing abnormalities in schizophrenia and addiction, we further argue that the principles of equifinality and multifinality may be preferable to a transdiagnostic perspective for conceptualizing the relationship between reward processing and psychiatric symptoms defined broadly.


We propose that vulnerability to either motivational anhedonia or approach-related hypo/manic symptoms involve extreme and opposite profiles of reward processing. We further propose that an equifinality and multifinality perspective may serve as a useful framework for future research on reward processing abnormalities and psychiatric symptoms.


Anhedonia; Approach-motivation; Dopamine; Hypo/mania; RDoC; Reward processing

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center