Erin Bondy


Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2023

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Anhedonia transcends psychiatric diagnostic boundaries (e.g., depression, schizophrenia, PTSD) and is a marker of severe dysfunction and treatment resistance. Convergent evidence from non-human animal models and initial human studies suggests that elevated inflammatory signaling may induce anhedonia. However, the mechanisms underlying this association and the specific forms of reward processing that may be affected remain largely unknown. Here, two studies were conducted examining whether variability in reward-related brain measures and behavior may plausibly contribute to inflammation-related differences in reward processing. In the first study, data from children of European American ancestry of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study of children (n=5,512 8-10 year olds at baseline) was used to test whether polygenic risk for heightened inflammatory signaling was associated with variability in reward-related corticostriatal circuit brain structure, reward-related behavior, and anhedonia. Polygenic scores of CRP were associated with total brain volume (β = -0.027, p = 0.04) but not anhedonia symptoms (|β|s < 0.364, ps < 0.05). In the second study, fasting blood, electroencephalography (EEG), behavioral, and self-report data were collected from young adults (n=116, 18–35-year-olds) to test whether circulating cytokines (n=69) are correlated with distinct aspects of behavioral (i.e., reward learning, delay discounting, effort expenditure) and neural (i.e., reward positivity [RewP]) indices of reward processing. No significant associations across measures were found (|β|s < 0.173, ps <0.05). These studies point to the critical need for future work examining the interplay of immune and neural pathways implicated in reward processing deficits in anhedonia.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Ryan Bogdan

Committee Members

Deanna Barch, Denise Head, Renee Thompson, Nicole Karcher,

Available for download on Wednesday, June 12, 2024