Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 45, Issue 10, pp 3351–3363 | Cite as

Tracking Social Motivation Systems Deficits: The Affective Neuroscience View of Autism

  • Arnaud Carré
  • Coralie Chevallier
  • Laurence Robel
  • Caroline Barry
  • Anne-Solène Maria
  • Lydia Pouga
  • Anne Philippe
  • François Pinabel
  • Sylvie Berthoz
Original Paper


Abnormal functioning of primary brain systems that express and modulate basic emotional drives are increasingly considered to underlie mental disorders including autism spectrum disorders. We hypothesized that ASD are characterized by disruptions in the primary systems involved in the motivation for social bonding. Twenty adults with ASD were compared to 20 neurotypical participants on the basis of self-reports and clinical assessments, including the Social Anhedonia Scale (SAS) and the Affective Neuroscience Personality Scales (ANPS). ASD diagnosis was related to SAS, as well as to positive (PLAYFULNESS) and negative (FEAR) ANPS-traits. In the overall sample, levels of autistic traits (AQ) were related to SAS and PLAYFULNESS. We argue that PLAYFULNESS could be at the root of social bonding impairments in ASD.


Autism Emotion Social motivation Social bonding Social anhedonia Playfulness 



The project was supported by the French “Fondation pour la Recherche Psychiatrique et la Santé Mentale” (FRPSM) and “Fondation Orange”. A.C. was funded by the French 'Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale'. C.C. was supported, in part, by Labex and Idex grants: ANR-10-LABX-0087 IEC and ANR-10-IDEX-0001-02 PSL* and by a Roger de Spoelberch Foundation Prize awarded to Julie Grèzes. We are grateful to Dr J. Grèzes for her assistance in the setting-up of the Autism Spectrum Disorder section of the DETENDOEMO study (RGB:2007-A01068-45). S.B. designed the study and wrote the protocol. A-S.M., L.P., A.P., F.P. and S.B. performed the study. A.C., C.C., L.R., C.B. and S.B. conducted the literature searches and analyses. A.C., C.B. and S.B. undertook the statistical analyses. A.C. wrote the first draft of the manuscript. All authors significantly participated in interpreting the results and revising the manuscript. All authors contributed to and have approved the final manuscript. A part of this study has been presented at the 15th congress of neuropsychoanalysis (New-York, July 2014). The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arnaud Carré
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Coralie Chevallier
    • 5
  • Laurence Robel
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 6
  • Caroline Barry
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Anne-Solène Maria
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 7
  • Lydia Pouga
    • 5
  • Anne Philippe
    • 6
    • 8
  • François Pinabel
    • 9
  • Sylvie Berthoz
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 10
  1. 1.Mental Health and Public HealthInserm, U1178ParisFrance
  2. 2.Université Paris Descartes, Sorbonne Paris CitéParisFrance
  3. 3.Université Paris Sud, UniverSud ParisOrsayFrance
  4. 4.Université Savoie Mont Blanc, LIPPC2SChambéryFrance
  5. 5.Laboratoire de Neurosciences Cognitives, Inserm, U960, Ecole Normale SupérieurePSL Research UniversityParisFrance
  6. 6.Hôpital Necker Enfants Malades, Department of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryAssistance Publique - Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP)ParisFrance
  7. 7.Hôpital Paul Brousse, Eating Disorders UnitAssistance Publique - Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP)VillejuifFrance
  8. 8.Genetics and Epigenetics of Neurometabolic Diseases and Birth DefectsInserm, U781ParisFrance
  9. 9.Hôpital Pitié-Salpétrière, Department of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryAssistance Publique - Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP)ParisFrance
  10. 10.Department of Psychiatry for Adolescents & Young AdultsInstitut Mutualiste MontsourisParisFrance

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