Reduced preference for social rewards in a novel tablet based task in young children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Liliana Ruta, Francesca Isabella Famà, Giuseppe Massimo Bernava, Elisa Leonardi, Gennaro Tartarisco, Alessandra Falzone, Giovanni Pioggia, Bhismadev Chakrabarti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Atypical responsivity to social rewards has been observed in young children with or at risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). These observations contributed to the hypothesis of reduced social motivation in ASD. In the current study we develop a novel task to test social reward preference using a tablet computer (iPad), where two differently coloured buttons were associated with a social and a nonsocial rewarding image respectively. 63 young children, aged 14-68 months, with and without a diagnosis of ASD took part in the study. The experimental sessions were also recorded on video, using an in-built webcam on the tablet as well as an external camera. Children with ASD were found to show a reduced relative preference for social rewards, indexed by a lower proportion of touches for the button associated with the social reward image. Greater social preference as measured using the tablet-based task was associated with increased use of social communicative behaviour such as eye contact with the experimenter and social smile in response to the social reward image. These results are consistent with earlier findings from eye-tracking studies, and provide novel empirical insights into atypical social reward responsivity in ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3329
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Reduced preference for social rewards in a novel tablet based task in young children with Autism Spectrum Disorders'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this