Reward circuitry function in autism during face anticipation and outcomes.
ABSTRACT The aim of this study was to investigate reward circuitry responses in autism during reward anticipation and outcomes for monetary and social rewards. During monetary anticipation, participants with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) showed hypoactivation in right nucleus accumbens and hyperactivation in right hippocampus, whereas during monetary outcomes, participants with ASDs showed hyperactivation in left midfrontal and anterior cingulate gyrus. Groups did not differ in nucleus accumbens responses to faces. The ASD group demonstrated hyperactivation in bilateral amygdala during face anticipation that predicted social symptom severity and in bilateral insular cortex during face outcomes. These results add to the growing body of evidence that autism is characterized by altered functioning of reward circuitry. Additionally, atypical amygdala activation during the processing of social rewards may contribute to the development or expression of autistic features.
Article: Affective responses by adults with autism are reduced to social images but elevated to images related to circumscribed interests.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) demonstrate increased visual attention and elevated brain reward circuitry responses to images related to circumscribed interests (CI), suggesting that a heightened affective response to CI may underlie their disproportionate salience and reward value in ASD. To determine if individuals with ASD differ from typically developing (TD) adults in their subjective emotional experience of CI object images, non-CI object images and social images, 213 TD adults and 56 adults with ASD provided arousal ratings (sensation of being energized varying along a dimension from calm to excited) and valence ratings (emotionality varying along dimension of approach to withdrawal) for a series of 114 images derived from previous research on CI. The groups did not differ on arousal ratings for any image type, but ASD adults provided higher valence ratings than TD adults for CI-related images, and lower valence ratings for social images. Even after co-varying the effects of sex, the ASD group, but not the TD group, gave higher valence ratings to CI images than social images. These findings provide additional evidence that ASD is characterized by a preference for certain categories of non-social objects and a reduced preference for social stimuli, and support the dissemination of this image set for examining aspects of the circumscribed interest phenotype in ASD.PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(8):e42457. · 4.09 Impact Factor