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Author Notes:

Michael T. Treadway: m.treadway@vanderbilt.edu

Conceived and designed the experiments: MTT DZ.; Performed the experiments: MTT ANS; Analyzed the data: MTT WEL; Wrote the paper: MTT JWB WEL DZ.

The authors wish to thank Adrian Lauf for help with task programming.

The authors also wish to thank Dr. Andrew Tomarken for useful recommendations on statistical analysis.

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Research Funding:

This work was funded by Vanderbilt University and NIDA grant 5R01DA019670 awarded to D.H.Z..


  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Depressive Disorder, Major
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation

Worth the 'EEfRT'? The effort expenditure for rewards task as an objective measure of motivation and anhedonia


Journal Title:



Volume 4, Number 8


, Pages e6598-e6598

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Background: Of the putative psychopathological endophenotypes in major depressive disorder (MDD), the anhedonic subtype is particularly well supported. Anhedonia is generally assumed to reflect aberrant motivation and reward responsivity. However, research has been limited by a lack of objective measures of reward motivation. We present the Effort-Expenditure for Rewards Task (EEfRT or "effort"), a novel behavioral paradigm as a means of exploring effort-based decision-making in humans. Using the EEfRT, we test the hypothesis that effort-based decision-making is related to trait anhedonia. Methods/Results: 61 undergraduate students participated in the experiment. Subjects completed self-report measures of mood and trait anhedonia, and completed the EEfRT. Across multiple analyses, we found a significant inverse relationship between anhedonia and willingness to expend effort for rewards. Conclusions: These findings suggest that anhedonia is specifically associated with decreased motivation for rewards, and provide initial validation for the EEfRT as a laboratory-based behavioral measure of reward motivation and effort-based decision-making in humans.

Copyright information:

© 2009 Treadway et al.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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