Lecture: Oscillatory Rhythm of Reward: Anticipation and Processing of Reward in Children With and Without Autism


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Katherine Stavropoulos' Lecture:Oscillatory Rhythm of Reward: Anticipation and Processing of Rewards  in Children With and Without AutismFebruary 22, 2018JSC Morrison, 4:30-6:00 PM 

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that effects up to 1 in 68 children. Core symptoms of ASD include deficits in social interaction and communication. One hypothesis about why children with ASD do not initiate social interactions is that they are not inherently rewarded by social stimuli. Another proposes that individuals with ASD find stimuli to be too intense and may have hypersensitivity social interaction, leading them to avoid these interactions. In the past, these two theories (the social motivation hypothesis, and sensory over-responsivity, respectively) have been compared and contrasted with the implicit assumption that they represent opposing views. In this talk, I will provide neural evidence that children with ASD may simultaneously experience lack of social motivation and sensory hyper-responsivity. This finding has interesting implications both for behavioral interventions and pharmacological treatments, and suggests that treatments should focus both on increasing the reward value of social information and decreasing hypersensitivity in individuals with ASD.