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Neural correlates of reward in autism

  • Nicole Schmitz (a1), Katya Rubia (a2), Therese van Amelsvoort (a3), Eileen Daly (a4), Anna Smith (a4) and Declan G. M. Murphy (a5)...

Abstract

Background

Lack of social interaction, which is characteristically seen in people with autistic-spectrum disorder, may be caused by malfunctioning of the frontostriatal reward systems. However, no reported in vivo brain imaging studies have investigated reward mechanisms in autistic-spectrum disorder.

Aims

To investigate functional brain activation during reward feedback in people with autistic-spectrum disorder and control individuals.

Method

We used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine the neural substrates of monetary reward in individuals with autistic-spectrum disorder and matched controls.

Results

When rewarded, individuals with autism compared with control individuals showed significantly greater brain activation in the left anterior cingulate gyrus. In addition, activation of this region was negatively correlated with social interaction as measured by the Autism Diagnostic Interview.

Conclusions

In people with autistic-spectrum disorder, achieving reward is associated with significant differences in the activation of areas known to be responsible for attention and arousal, and this may partially underpin some deficits in social behaviour.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Dr Nicole Schmitz, Academisch Psychiatrisch Centrum, Meibergdreef 5, Adolescentenkliniek/PA3-136, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Email: N.Schmitz@amc.uva.nl

Footnotes

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Declaration of interest

None.

Funding detailed in Acknowledgements.

Footnotes

References

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Neural correlates of reward in autism

  • Nicole Schmitz (a1), Katya Rubia (a2), Therese van Amelsvoort (a3), Eileen Daly (a4), Anna Smith (a4) and Declan G. M. Murphy (a5)...
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