Common and distinct neural features of social and non-social reward processing in autism and social anxiety disorder.


Journal Article

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and social anxiety disorder (SAD) are both characterized by social dysfunction, but no study to date has compared neural responses to social rewards in ASDs and SAD. Neural responses during social and non-social reward anticipation and outcomes were examined in individuals with ASD (n = 16), SAD (n = 15) and a control group (n = 19) via functional magnetic resonance imaging. Analyses modeling all three groups revealed increased nucleus accumbens (NAc) activation in SAD relative to ASD during monetary reward anticipation, whereas both the SAD and ASD group demonstrated decreased bilateral NAc activation relative to the control group during social reward anticipation. During reward outcomes, the SAD group did not differ significantly from the other two groups in ventromedial prefrontal cortex activation to either reward type. Analyses comparing only the ASD and SAD groups revealed greater bilateral amygdala activation to social rewards in SAD relative to ASD during both anticipation and outcome phases, and the magnitude of left amygdala hyperactivation in the SAD group during social reward anticipation was significantly correlated with the severity of trait anxiety symptoms. Results suggest reward network dysfunction to both monetary and social rewards in SAD and ASD during reward anticipation and outcomes, but that NAc hypoactivation during monetary reward anticipation differentiates ASD from SAD.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Richey, JA; Rittenberg, A; Hughes, L; Damiano, CR; Sabatino, A; Miller, S; Hanna, E; Bodfish, JW; Dichter, GS

Published Date

  • March 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 9 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 367 - 377

PubMed ID

  • 23223206

Pubmed Central ID

  • 23223206

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1749-5024

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/scan/nss146


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England