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Neural correlates of reward in autism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

N Schmitz, K Rubia, T Van Amelsvoort, E Daly, A Smith, D G M Murphy

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19 - 24
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Volume192
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008

King's Authors

Abstract

Background
Lack of social interaction, which is characteristically seen in people with autistic-spectrum disorder, may be caused by malfunctioning of the frontostriatal reward systems. However, no reported in vivo brain imaging studies have investigated reward mechanisms in autistic-spectrum disorder.

Aims
To investigate functional brain activation during reward feedback in people with autistic-spectrum disorder and control individuals.

Method
We used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine the neural substrates of monetary reward in individuals with autistic-spectrum disorder and matched controls.

Results
When rewarded, individuals with autism compared with control individuals showed significantly greater brain activation in the left anterior cingulate gyrus. In addition, activation of this region was negatively correlated with social interaction as measured by the Autism Diagnostic Interview.

Conclusions
In people with autistic-spectrum disorder, achieving reward is associated with significant differences in the activation of areas known to be responsible for attention and arousal, and this may partially underpin some deficits in social behaviour.

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