Project Detail
Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) logo
Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC) logo

fMRI study of reward responsiveness of children with autism spectrum disorder  

This is an individual National Research Service Award for post-doctoral research training, which provides support for promising Fellowship Applicants with the potential to become productive, independent investigators in scientific health-related research fields. This work stems from the social motivation theory which holds that from a young age, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), unlike typically developing children, fail to feel a sense of reward or pleasure when seeing their mothers' smiling faces, for example. Understanding reward responsiveness is important not only for behavioral interventions but also for pharmacologic interventions, as there are potential mechanisms for manipulating reward responsiveness that could provide a target for intervention. This study tests whether these reward deficits are primary or secondary (which would make them potentially less amenable to direct intervention). These alternatives are tested by manipulating reward content (social vs. non social) and reward salience (special interest vs. typical rewards) using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in children with ASD. Participants will perform an implicit learning task where arbitrary stimulus response pairs are implicitly learned over time with rewarded and non-rewarded conditions. The hypothesis is that children with ASD can indeed respond to and learn from social rewards; however, the social rewards may need to be of higher salience than for typically developing children. Project Status


Funder National Institutes of Health
Fiscal Year Funding $49,846.00
Current Award Period 2010-2012
Project Number 1F32MH088142-01A1
Principal Investigator Shirinyan, David
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 2: How Can I Understand What Is Happening? (Biology)
Subcategory Neural Systems
Strategic Plan Objective 2O. Not specific to Question 2 objectives
Federal or Private? Federal
Institution University of California, Los Angeles
State/Country California
Web Link 1 fMRI study of reward responsiveness of children with autism spectrum disorder (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
History/Related Projects N/A