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Child maltreatment is a major risk factor for psychopathology, including reactive attachment disorder (RAD).
To examine whether neural activity during reward processing was altered in children and adolescents with RAD.
Sixteen children and adolescents with RAD and 20 typically developing (TD) individuals performed tasks with high and low monetary rewards while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging.
Significantly reduced activity in the caudate and nucleus accumbens was observed during the high monetary reward condition in the RAD group compared with the TD group (P=0.015, family-wise error-corrected cluster level). Significant negative correlations between bilateral striatal activity and avoidant attachment were observed in the RAD and TD groups.
Striatal neural reward activity in the RAD group was markedly decreased. The present results suggest that dopaminergic dysfunction occurs in the striatum of children and adolescents with RAD, leading towards potential future risks for psychopathology.
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