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Positive Valence System Function and Reward Exposure Therapy for Late-Life Depression

Clinical Trial Details

The goal of this study is to learn about changes in the brain that occur during Engage, a psychotherapy for depression in older adults, and how they may differ from changes that occur during supportive therapy. Older adults with depression will receive 9 weeks of either Engage or supportive therapy and will complete research assessments before the therapy begins and at weeks 3, 6, and 9 of treatment. Research assessments will include questionnaires, computer tasks, and recordings of electrical brain activity (also called electroencephalography or EEG). 

Key Eligibility: 

Inclusion Criteria 

  • At least 60 years old 
  • Major depressive disorder without psychotic features 
  • Not on antidepressants or on a stable does for the past 12 weeks 
  • Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale score ≥ 20 
  • Mini-Mental State Examination score ≥ 24 
  • Off antidepressants or on a stable dose for 12 weeks without intent to change dose 
  • Capacity to consent 

Exclusion Criteria 

  • Intent or plan to attempt suicide 
  • Current psychiatric diagnosis other than Major Depressive Disorder, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or specific phobia
  • History of past psychiatric diagnoses other than MDD, PDD, or anxiety disorders (separation, specific phobia, social phobia, panic, agoraphobia, GAD) 
  • Use of psychotropic drugs or cholinesterase inhibitors (other than a stable dose of an antidepressant or benzodiazepines ≤ 0.5mg, ≤ 5x/week) 
  • Serious medical conditions such as neurological disorders, severe COPD, metastatic cancer, cardiac/renal/respiratory failure, other condition that influences neural systems 

Study contact by location

Upper East Side - Manhattan


Krystalle Lyons

Rana Azab

Aliayah Himelfarb



Krystalle Lyons

Rana Azab

Aliayah Himelfarb

Primary Investigator(s)

Protocol ID(s)

Weill Cornell Medicine IRB #:




Open to Enrollment

Age Group