Responsivity to familiar versus unfamiliar social reward in children with autism

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftForschungsartikelBeigetragenBegutachtung



In autism spectrum disorders (ASD), social motivation theories suggest that the core social communication problems seen in children with ASD arise from diminished responsiveness to social reward. Although clinical and experimental data support these theories, the extent to which the reward deficit in ASD is unique for social rewards remains unclear. With the present investigation, we aimed to provide insight into the degree to which sociality as well as familiarity of reward incentives impact motivated goal-directed behavior in children with ASD. To do so, we directly compared the influence of familiar versus unfamiliar social reward relative to nonsocial, monetary reward in children with ASD relative to age- and IQ-matched typically developing controls (TDC) using a visual and auditory incentive go/nogo task with reward contingencies for successful response inhibitions. We found that children with ASD responded stronger to visual familiar and unfamiliar social reward as well as to nonsocial, monetary reward than TDC. While the present data are at odds with predictions made by social motivation theories, individual variations beyond clinical diagnosis, such as reward exposure across various social settings, help explain the pattern of results. The findings of this study stress the necessity for additional research on intra-individual as well as environmental factors that contribute to social reward responsiveness in individuals with ASD versus other neuropsychiatric disorders such as ADHD or conduct disorder.


Seiten (von - bis)1199-210
FachzeitschriftJournal of neural transmission
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - Sept. 2014

Externe IDs

Scopus 84907598998



  • Adolescent, Child, Child Development Disorders, Pervasive/psychology, Executive Function, Female, Humans, Inhibition, Psychological, Male, Motivation, Neuropsychological Tests, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Psychomotor Performance, Recognition, Psychology, Regression Analysis, Reward, Social Perception, Speech Perception, Surveys and Questionnaires