Using effort to measure reward value of faces in children with autism

Louise Ewing, Elizabeth Pellicano, Gillian Rhodes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

According to one influential account, face processing atypicalities in autism reflect reduced reward value of faces, which results in limited attention to faces during development and a consequent failure to acquire face expertise. Surprisingly, however, there is a paucity of work directly investigating the reward value of faces for individuals with autism and the evidence for diminished face rewards in this population remains equivocal. In the current study, we measured how hard children with autism would work to view faces, using an effortful key-press sequence, and whether they were sensitive to the differential reward value of attractive and unattractive faces. Contrary to expectations, cognitively able children with autism did not differ from typically developing children of similar age and ability in their willingness to work to view faces. Moreover, the effort expended was strongly positively correlated with facial attractiveness ratings in both groups of children. There was also no evidence of atypical reward values for other, less social categories (cars and inverted faces) in the children with autism. These results speak against the possibility that face recognition difficulties in autism are explained by atypical reward value of faces.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere79493
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume8
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2013. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

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