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Neuroimaging findings show grey-matter intensity decreases related to anhedonia, apathy and depression. Anhedonia in FTD was related to degeneration of the regions circled in green, which are hedonic hotspots (related to reward-seeking) in the brain. Credit: University of Sydney.
The papers senior author, Professor Muireann Irish from the University of Sydneys Brain and Mind Centre and School of Psychology in the Faculty of Science, said despite increasing evidence of motivational disturbances, no study had previously explored the capacity to experience pleasure in people with FTD.
Much of human experience is motivated by the drive to experience pleasure but we often take this capacity for granted. 
But consider what it might be like to lose the capacity to enjoy the simple pleasures of life this has stark implications for the wellbeing of people affected by these neurodegenerative disorders.
Our findings also reflect the workings of a complex network of regions in the brain, signalling potential treatments, said Professor Irish (who also recently published a paper in Brain about moral reasoning in FTD).
Future studies will be essential to address the impact of anhedonia on everyday activities, and to inform the development of targeted interventions to improve quality of life in patients and their families.
This is the first study, to the researchers knowledge, to demonstrate profound anhedonia in FTD, reflecting loss of grey matter density in the frontal and striatal regions of the brain. Interestingly, anhedonia was not present in a group of participants with Alzheimers disease, suggesting this symptom is specific to FTD.
A total of 172 participants were recruited, including 87 FTD, 34 Alzheimers disease participants. Using brain imaging, researchers found that the loss of pleasure related to degeneration in a discrete set of regions in the so-called pleasure system of the brain. 
The study led by the University of Sydney includes researchers with affiliations with the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the Black Dog Institute.