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Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2014 Oct;9(10):1569-75. doi: 10.1093/scan/nst149. Epub 2013 Sep 12.

Reward sensitivity to faces versus objects in children: an ERP study.

Author information

1
Psychology Department and Human Development Program, University of California, UC San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive #0109, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA kmeltzof@ucsd.edu.
2
Psychology Department and Human Development Program, University of California, UC San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive #0109, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA Psychology Department and Human Development Program, University of California, UC San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive #0109, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.

Abstract

How children respond to social and nonsocial rewards has important implications for understanding social cognitive development. Adults find faces intrinsically rewarding. However, little is known about how children respond to face vs nonface rewards. We utilized event-related potentials (the stimulus-preceding negativity, SPN) to measure differences in reward anticipation during a guessing game in 6- to 8-year-olds. Children were presented with reward indicators accompanied by incidental face or nonface stimuli. Nonface stimuli were comprised of scrambled faces in the shape of arrows, controlling for low-level properties of the two conditions. Children showed an increased SPN when the reward stimuli were accompanied by faces, relative to nonface stimuli. This suggests that children find a face stimulus more rewarding than a nonface stimulus. The results have important implications for processing social vs nonsocial rewards in typically developing children, and allow testing of populations with deficits in social reward processing, such as autism spectrum disorder.

KEYWORDS:

children; event-related potentials; faces; reward processing; social motivation

PMID:
24036961
PMCID:
PMC4187274
DOI:
10.1093/scan/nst149
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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