Reward processing in psychopathology 8 – 9 February 2024
EPP Symposium 153

Reward processing refers to the complex neural and psychological mechanisms involved in how individuals perceive, evaluate, and respond to rewards in their environment. It plays a crucial role in shaping behaviour, learning, and decision-making. When an individual experiences something pleasurable or rewarding, the brain reinforces the associated behaviour, making it more likely for the individual to repeat that behaviour in the future. Key components of reward processing include anticipation, experience, and evaluation of rewards. Dysfunction in any of these components is implicated in various psychological disorders. For example, individuals with depression may exhibit reduced responsiveness to stimuli that signal potential reward, while those with addiction may experience heightened sensitivity to drug-related rewards. Thus, aberrant reward processing has transdiagnostic relevance.

This symposium aims to present an overview of reward processing in health and disease, approached from different psychological, (neuro)biological and social perspectives. We will also discuss some of the science-driven interventions that target aberrant reward processing. During the interactive part of the symposium students will be encouraged to critically reflect on the importance of reward processing and on how to best assess this in the lab as well as in daily life.

February 8 – 9, 2024

Landgoed de Horst, De Horst 1, 3971 KR Driebergen

Ann Meulders (University of Maastricht) and Renée Visser (University of Amsterdam)


Thursday February 8


10.30 – 11.00 Welcome + Coffee/Tea  
11.00 – 12.00 Anne Roefs (Maastricht University) – Is it justified to blame the brain reward system for overweight and obesity?
12.00 – 13.00 Eric Ruhé (Radboud UMC, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour) – Anhedonia in Depression
13.00 – 14.00 Lunch
14.00 – 15.00 Andre Pittig (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen) – The role of competing rewards for threat avoidance in fear and anxiety
15.00 – 15.15 Break 
15.15 – 15.45 PhD Presentation by Hanieh Abeditehrani (University of Amsterdam): Effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Group Therapy, Psychodrama, and Their Integration for Treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial”
15.45 – 16.15 PhD Presentation by Iris van Dijk (University Utrecht): “Assessment and treatment of prolonged grief in bereaved families following (sudden) loss”.
16.15 – 17.15 Interactive part 
17.15 – 18.30 Drinks/walk/run 
18.30 – 20.30 Dinner 


Friday February 9


09.00 – 10.00 Siri Leknes (University of Oslo) – Reward processing in chronic pain and the role of opioids for pain relief
10.00 – 11.00 Janna Cousijn (Erasmus University Rotterdam) – Alcohol & cannabis use disorder and the brain: what’s social and cultural context got to do with it?
11.00 – 11.30 Break 
11.30 – 12.30 Gilles Pourtois (Ghent University) – Human electrophysiology of reward processing in internalizing psychopathology: abnormal error, value or effort processing?
12.30 – 13.30 Lunch  
13.30 – 14.30 Wrap up from interactive/group assignment 


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