Reward Dysfunction in the Manic Spectrum: Unable to Win? The Use of Biographical Information to Refine Neurobiological Modeling

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The manic spectrum is thought to be characterized by a hypersensitive biobehavioral reward system, the behavioral activation system. Evidence for this framework comes from questionnaire-based, self-report data collected in cross-sectional and prospective studies of mania, mania in remission, and proneness to hypomania, and from functional neuroimaging investigations of brain reward circuit activity during incentivized choice protocols. Although heightened reward anticipation is consistently documented, the status of later goal attainment activity, hedonic responses, and satiety reactions is less clear. This report examines the status of such reward receipt processes as they operate in the manic spectrum.


A case report of a typical subject with bipolar II disorder with a hyperthymic temperament is presented using longitudinal, biographical data.


Diminished reward receipt, pleasure, and satiety were demonstrated indicating impaired hedonic processing in hyperthymic temperament. This impairment indicates a dissociation between early, intensified reward pursuit processes and later, blunted, reward attainment activity.


The experience and neural correlates of hedonic processing may be impaired in the manic spectrum. Possible mechanisms for this impairment and its dissociation from the earlier stage of reward processing characterized by hyperactive reward pursuit are considered. Clinical reports and longitudinal, life-based follow-up can provide important data to supplement more experimentally based neurobiological models of reward dysfunction in bipolar disorders.

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