Neural mechanisms of negative reinforcement in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.


Journal Article

BACKGROUND: Previous research has found accumulating evidence for atypical reward processing in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), particularly in the context of social rewards. Yet, this line of research has focused largely on positive social reinforcement, while little is known about the processing of negative reinforcement in individuals with ASD. METHODS: The present study examined neural responses to social negative reinforcement (a face displaying negative affect) and non-social negative reinforcement (monetary loss) in children with ASD relative to typically developing children, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). RESULTS: We found that children with ASD demonstrated hypoactivation of the right caudate nucleus while anticipating non-social negative reinforcement and hypoactivation of a network of frontostriatal regions (including the nucleus accumbens, caudate nucleus, and putamen) while anticipating social negative reinforcement. In addition, activation of the right caudate nucleus during non-social negative reinforcement was associated with individual differences in social motivation. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that atypical responding to negative reinforcement in children with ASD may contribute to social motivational deficits in this population.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Damiano, CR; Cockrell, DC; Dunlap, K; Hanna, EK; Miller, S; Bizzell, J; Kovac, M; Turner-Brown, L; Sideris, J; Kinard, J; Dichter, GS

Published Date

  • 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 7 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 12 -

PubMed ID

  • 25829969

Pubmed Central ID

  • 25829969

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1866-1947

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1186/s11689-015-9107-8


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England