Differentiating neural reward responsiveness in autism versus ADHD.

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TitleDifferentiating neural reward responsiveness in autism versus ADHD.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsKohls, G, Thönessen, H, Bartley, GK, Grossheinrich, N, Fink, GR, Herpertz-Dahlmann, B, Konrad, K
JournalDev Cogn Neurosci
Date Published2014 Oct
KeywordsAdolescent, Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity, Autistic Disorder, Brain Mapping, Child, Child Development Disorders, Pervasive, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Parietal Lobe, Prefrontal Cortex, Reward, Ventral Striatum

Although attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) share certain neurocognitive characteristics, it has been hypothesized to differentiate the two disorders based on their brain's reward responsiveness to either social or monetary reward. Thus, the present fMRI study investigated neural activation in response to both reward types in age and IQ-matched boys with ADHD versus ASD relative to typically controls (TDC). A significant group by reward type interaction effect emerged in the ventral striatum with greater activation to monetary versus social reward only in TDC, whereas subjects with ADHD responded equally strong to both reward types, and subjects with ASD showed low striatal reactivity across both reward conditions. Moreover, disorder-specific neural abnormalities were revealed, including medial prefrontal hyperactivation in response to social reward in ADHD versus ventral striatal hypoactivation in response to monetary reward in ASD. Shared dysfunction was characterized by fronto-striato-parietal hypoactivation in both clinical groups when money was at stake. Interestingly, lower neural activation within parietal circuitry was associated with higher autistic traits across the entire study sample. In sum, the present findings concur with the assumption that both ASD and ADHD display distinct and shared neural dysfunction in response to reward.

Alternate JournalDev Cogn Neurosci
PubMed ID25190643
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