Feedback and reward processing in high-functioning autism.
ABSTRACT Individuals with high-functioning autism often display deficits in social interactions and high-level cognitive functions. Such deficits may be influenced by poor ability to process feedback and rewards. The feedback-related negativity (FRN) is an event-related potential (ERP) that is more negative following losses than gains. We examined FRN amplitude in 25 individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and 25 age- and IQ-matched typically developing control participants who completed a guessing task with monetary loss/gain feedback. Both groups demonstrated a robust FRN that was more negative to loss trials than gain trials; however, groups did not differ in FRN amplitude as a function of gain or loss trials. N1 and P300 amplitudes did not differentiate groups. FRN amplitude was positively correlated with age in individuals with ASD, but not measures of intelligence, anxiety, behavioral inhibition, or autism severity. Given previous findings of reduced-amplitude error-related negativity (ERN) in ASD, we propose that individuals with ASD may process external, concrete, feedback similar to typically developing individuals, but have difficulty with internal, more abstract, regulation of performance.