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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
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (93rd percentile)

Mentioned by

1 blog
16 tweeters


140 Dimensions

Readers on

395 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 395 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%
France 2 <1%
United Kingdom 2 <1%
Canada 2 <1%
Sweden 1 <1%
Israel 1 <1%
Brazil 1 <1%
Italy 1 <1%
Other 2 <1%
Unknown 377 95%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Ph. D. Student 104 26%
Student > Master 50 13%
Researcher 48 12%
Student > Bachelor 43 11%
Student > Doctoral Student 28 7%
Other 61 15%
Unknown 61 15%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Psychology 166 42%
Neuroscience 41 10%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 31 8%
Medicine and Dentistry 21 5%
Social Sciences 15 4%
Other 42 11%
Unknown 79 20%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 18. 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 23 September 2021.
All research outputs
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Outputs from Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders
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Outputs of similar age
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Outputs of similar age from Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders
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Altmetric has tracked 22,603,384 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 92nd percentile: it's in the top 10% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 473 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 11.5. This one has done well, scoring higher than 87% 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 144,330 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 93% 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