Wednesday, 18 July 2012 00:59

Research grant for a study of pleasure and reasons for lack of it in depression

Dr. Oliver Hulme from the DRCMR was in summer 2012 awarded one of the competitive research grants from the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation. The project is entitled The Homeostatic Functions of Pleasure and their Dysfunction in Major Depressive Disorder and it will be investigated how the brain generates the experience of sensory pleasure and how this can go wrong.

The experience of pleasure is a central part in our lives. Anhedonia, a reduced ability to experience pleasure, is one of the most problematic symptoms of mental illness such as depression, schizophrenia and drug abuse. Many theories claim that pleasure plays an important role in regulating the body's physiological state, and thus helps maintain homeostasis. Excessive volatility can result in death. The feeling of pleasure is one of the mechanisms that keep people motivated to take care of themselves and ensure a balanced state. Despite the importance, little is known about the specific brain mechanisms involved in pleasure and homeostasis. The purpose of the project is to use functional brain imaging (fMRI) to study brain activity associated with sensory pleasure. To identify the mechanisms responsible for feelings of pleasure, medications that affect neurotransmitters in specific ways will be administered, and it will be measured to which extent this affects brain activity and the experience of pleasure. The procedure is repeated in psychiatric patients suffering from anhedonia, so as to elucidate the reasons for their inability to experience pleasure.

Congratulations to Oliver!

Dr. Oliver Hulme from the DRCMR was in summer 2012 awarded one of the competitive research grants from the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation. The project is entitled The Homeostatic Functions of Pleasure and their Dysfunction in Major Depressive Disorder and it will be investigated how the brain generates the experience of sensory pleasure and how this can go wrong.

The experience of pleasure is a central part in our lives. Anhedonia, a reduced ability to experience pleasure, is one of the most problematic symptoms of mental illness such as depression, schizophrenia and drug abuse. Many theories claim that pleasure plays an important role in regulating the body's physiological state, and thus helps maintain homeostasis. Excessive volatility can result in death. The feeling of pleasure is one of the mechanisms that keep people motivated to take care of themselves and ensure a balanced state. Despite the importance, little is known about the specific brain mechanisms involved in pleasure and homeostasis. The purpose of the project is to use functional brain imaging (fMRI) to study brain activity associated with sensory pleasure. To identify the mechanisms responsible for feelings of pleasure, medications that affect neurotransmitters in specific ways will be administered, and it will be measured to which extent this affects brain activity and the experience of pleasure. The procedure is repeated in psychiatric patients suffering from anhedonia, so as to elucidate the reasons for their inability to experience pleasure.

Congratulations to Oliver!