Reward circuitry function in autism spectrum disorders.

Published

Journal Article

Social interaction deficits and restricted repetitive behaviors and interests that characterize autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) may both reflect aberrant functioning of brain reward circuits. However, no neuroimaging study to date has investigated the integrity of reward circuits using an incentive delay paradigm in individuals with ASDs. In the present study, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to assess blood-oxygen level-dependent activation during reward anticipation and outcomes in 15 participants with an ASD and 16 matched control participants. Brain activation was assessed during anticipation of and in response to monetary incentives and object image incentives previously shown to be visually salient for individuals with ASDs (e.g., trains, electronics). Participants with ASDs showed decreased nucleus accumbens activation during monetary anticipation and outcomes, but not during object anticipation or outcomes. Group × reward-type-interaction tests revealed robust interaction effects in bilateral nucleus accumbens during reward anticipation and in ventromedial prefrontal cortex during reward outcomes, indicating differential responses contingent on reward type in these regions. Results suggest that ASDs are characterized by reward-circuitry hypoactivation in response to monetary incentives but not in response to autism-relevant object images. The clinical implications of the double dissociation of reward type and temporal phase in reward circuitry function in ASD are discussed.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Dichter, GS; Felder, JN; Green, SR; Rittenberg, AM; Sasson, NJ; Bodfish, JW

Published Date

  • February 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 7 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 160 - 172

PubMed ID

  • 21148176

Pubmed Central ID

  • 21148176

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1749-5024

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1749-5016

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/scan/nsq095

Language

  • eng