Anhedonia is a reduction in enjoyment, motivation or interest. It is common across mental health disorders and a harbinger of poor treatment outcomes. The enjoyment aspect, termed ‘consummatory anhedonia’, in particular poses fundamental questions about how the brain constructs rewards: what processes determine how intensely a reward is experienced? Here, we outline limitations of existing computational conceptualisations of consummatory anhedonia. We then suggest a richer reinforcement-learning account of consummatory anhedonia with a reconceptualisation of subjective hedonic experience in terms of goal progress. This accounts qualitatively for the impact of stress, dysfunctional cognitions, and maladaptive beliefs on hedonic experience. The model also offers new views on the treatments for anhedonia.
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