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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 of older adults that occur during treatment for depression with two types of psychotherapy called Engage therapy and supportive therapy, and how they differ from one another.

Engage therapy is designed to help individuals with depression become involved in activities they previously enjoyed but have not been participating in since developing depression. In Engage therapy, individuals with depression work with a therapist to develop "action plans" to pursue rewarding activities of their choice.

Supportive therapy is designed to provide a warm and supportive environment in which individuals with depression can feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings. In supportive therapy, therapists help patients identify themes in their thinking, provide reassurance, emphasize coping skills, and provide guidance as needed.

Participants will be randomized into one of the two study groups. Randomization is like flipping a coin and there is a 50/50 chance of being assigned to either group.

Study participation will last for approximately 9 weeks, with weekly therapy appointments. Participants will also 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). 

All participants will be compensated for their participation in this study. Those who participate in the entire study will be eligible to earn up to $260.

Key Eligibility: 
  1. Men and women who are at least 60 years old
  2. Major depressive disorder 
  3. Not on antidepressants or on a stable dose for the past 12 weeks 

Detailed eligibility will be discussed with the study team.

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