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Social ‘wanting’ dysfunction in autism: neurobiological underpinnings and treatment implications

Overview of attention for article published in Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, June 2012
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  • In the top 25% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • Among the highest-scoring outputs from this source (#47 of 318)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (91st percentile)

Mentioned by

1 blog
10 tweeters


99 Dimensions

Readers on

301 Mendeley
1 CiteULike
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Social ‘wanting’ dysfunction in autism: neurobiological underpinnings and treatment implications
Published in
Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, June 2012
DOI 10.1186/1866-1955-4-10
Pubmed ID

Gregor Kohls, Coralie Chevallier, Vanessa Troiani, Robert T Schultz


Most behavioral training regimens in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) rely on reward-based reinforcement strategies. Although proven to significantly increase both cognitive and social outcomes and successfully reduce aberrant behaviors, this approach fails to benefit a substantial number of affected individuals. Given the enormous amount of clinical and financial resources devoted to behavioral interventions, there is a surprisingly large gap in our knowledge of the basic reward mechanisms of learning in ASD. Understanding the mechanisms for reward responsiveness and reinforcement-based learning is urgently needed to better inform modifications that might improve current treatments. The fundamental goal of this review is to present a fine-grained literature analysis of reward function in ASD with reference to a validated neurobiological model of reward: the 'wanting'/'liking' framework. Despite some inconsistencies within the available literature, the evaluation across three converging sets of neurobiological data (neuroimaging, electrophysiological recordings, and neurochemical measures) reveals good evidence for disrupted reward-seeking tendencies in ASD, particularly in social contexts. This is most likely caused by dysfunction of the dopaminergic-oxytocinergic 'wanting' circuitry, including the ventral striatum, amygdala, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Such a conclusion is consistent with predictions derived from diagnostic criteria concerning the core social phenotype of ASD, which emphasize difficulties with spontaneous self-initiated seeking of social encounters (that is, social motivation). Existing studies suggest that social 'wanting' tendencies vary considerably between individuals with ASD, and that the degree of social motivation is both malleable and predictive of intervention response. Although the topic of reward responsiveness in ASD is very new, with much research still needed, the current data clearly point towards problems with incentive-based motivation and learning, with clear and important implications for treatment. Given the reliance of behavioral interventions on reinforcement-based learning principles, we believe that a systematic focus on the integrity of the reward system in ASD promises to yield many important clues, both to the underlying mechanisms causing ASD and to enhancing the efficacy of existing and new interventions.

Twitter Demographics

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Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 301 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Netherlands 3 <1%
United States 3 <1%
United Kingdom 2 <1%
Canada 2 <1%
France 2 <1%
Italy 1 <1%
Sweden 1 <1%
Brazil 1 <1%
Romania 1 <1%
Other 2 <1%
Unknown 283 94%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Ph. D. Student 89 30%
Student > Master 45 15%
Researcher 41 14%
Student > Bachelor 28 9%
Student > Doctoral Student 22 7%
Other 49 16%
Unknown 27 9%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Psychology 145 48%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 33 11%
Neuroscience 30 10%
Medicine and Dentistry 16 5%
Social Sciences 14 5%
Other 27 9%
Unknown 36 12%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 14. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 10 August 2017.
All research outputs
of 14,546,345 outputs
Outputs from Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders
of 318 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 123,575 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders
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Altmetric has tracked 14,546,345 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 91st percentile: it's in the top 10% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 318 research outputs from this source. They typically receive more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 9.4. This one has done well, scoring higher than 85% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 123,575 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 91% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 1 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has scored higher than all of them