Original paper

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 1-10

Neural Mechanisms of Improvements in Social Motivation After Pivotal Response Treatment: Two Case Studies

  • Avery C. VoosAffiliated withYale Child Study Center, Yale UniversityUCSB Koegel Autism Center, Graduate School of Education, UC, Santa Barbara Email author 
  • , Kevin A. PelphreyAffiliated withYale Child Study Center, Yale University
  • , Jonathan TirrellAffiliated withYale Child Study Center, Yale University
  • , Danielle Z. BollingAffiliated withYale Child Study Center, Yale University
  • , Brent Vander WykAffiliated withYale Child Study Center, Yale University
  • , Martha D. KaiserAffiliated withYale Child Study Center, Yale University
  • , James C. McPartlandAffiliated withYale Child Study Center, Yale University
  • , Fred R. VolkmarAffiliated withYale Child Study Center, Yale University
  • , Pamela VentolaAffiliated withYale Child Study Center, Yale University

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Abstract

Pivotal response treatment (PRT) is an empirically validated behavioral treatment that has widespread positive effects on communication, behavior, and social skills in young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). For the first time, functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to identify the neural correlates of successful response to PRT in two young children with ASD. Baseline measures of social communication, adaptive behavior, eye tracking and neural response to social stimuli were taken prior to treatment and after 4 months of PRT. Both children showed striking gains on behavioral measures and also showed increased activation to social stimuli in brain regions utilized by typically developing children. These results suggest that neural systems supporting social perception are malleable through implementation of PRT.

Keywords

Pivotal response treatment fMRI Autism Intervention Outcome