Neurodegenerative diseases are increasingly recognised to be an important cause of brain disorders, particularly in late age. Associated with a wide range of pathologies, they lead to progressive loss of neurons in different regions of the nervous system. Although anhedonia is common in a variety of neurodegenerative diseases, to date it has not been extensively studied in most of these conditions. Here we review the current literature on studies assessing the association between anhedonia and neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson's Disease, Dementia with Lewy Bodies, Parkinson's Plus Syndromes, Alzheimer's Disease, Vascular Dementia, Frontotemporal Dementia, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Huntington's Disease. Much of the research has been conducted in Parkinson's disease where it is evident that there are strong links between apathy (loss of motivation) and anhedonia, although the two syndromes can be dissociated. Intriguingly, drugs that improve apathy can also lead to amelioration of anhedonia in some cases. Overlaps between the two syndromes may also exist across other neurodegenerative conditions, including Frontotemporal Dementia in which imaging has revealed atrophy of both common brain regions associated with anhedonia and apathy, as well as a set of unique brain regions associated with anhedonia. A transdiagnostic perspective might be helpful to investigate whether a common network of brain regions is dysfunctional with anhedonia across neurodegenerative conditions.
Curr Top Behav Neurosci
Alzheimer’s disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Apathy, Dementia with Lewy bodies, Depression, Frontotemporal dementia, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Parkinson’s plus syndromes, Vascular dementia