2020-05-21Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/21472
Autistic Traits Affect Reward Anticipation but not Reception
Autism spectrum conditions (ASC) have been linked to aberrant reward processing, but it remains unclear whether it is a general dysfunction or limited to social stimuli, and whether it affects both phases of reward processing, namely anticipation and reception. We used event-related brain potentials and a population-based approach to investigate reward anticipation and reception to socially relevant (i.e., picture of experimenter’s face showing approval/disapproval) and monetary rewards in 51 neurotypical individuals with varying levels of autistic traits. Higher autistic traits were associated with enhanced reward anticipation across reward types in the early anticipation phase (triggered by incentive cues), but not in the late anticipation phase (directly before reward reception), as reflected by the CNV component. The P3 component in response to reward reception showed a general increase for monetary outcomes, which was not modulated by autistic traits. These results suggest that higher autistic traits are related to enhanced reward anticipation, but do not modulate reward reception. No interaction between reward types and autistic traits was observed. We propose that the relevance of social rewards had higher reward value than commonly used pictures of strangers, which specifically normalised responses for individuals with high autistic traits.
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This article was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Open Access Publication Fund of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.