Date of Award

1-10-2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Sharee Light, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Erin Tone, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Vonetta Dotson, Ph.D.

Abstract

Anhedonia (defined as the inability to experience pleasure) is a symptom that is difficult to treat in patients with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Prior research suggests that the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) is a major underlying mechanism in the pathophysiology of depression. Therefore, we investigated whether repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) treatment to the left DLPFC would predict a reduction in one facet of anhedonia symptomatology—namely, reward derived from positive social stimuli (i.e., smiling human faces)—in 26 depressed adults. The results revealed no significant effects of rTMS treatment on either accuracy or speeded reaction time during a novel behavioral task that involved identifying positive emotion in human faces. This suggests that although rTMS may be an innovative technique to reduce depressive symptoms in adults with MDD overall, its efficacy may not hinge on a meaningful reduction in this particular aspect of anhedonia.

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