Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 589–599

Sex Differences in Social Perception in Children with ASD

  • M. C. Coffman
  • L. C. Anderson
  • A. J. Naples
  • J. C. McPartland
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10803-013-2006-5

Cite this article as:
Coffman, M.C., Anderson, L.C., Naples, A.J. et al. J Autism Dev Disord (2015) 45: 589. doi:10.1007/s10803-013-2006-5

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is more common in males than females. An underrepresentation of females in the ASD literature has led to limited knowledge of differences in social function across the sexes. Investigations of face perception represent a promising target for understanding variability in social functioning between males and females. The current study analyzed electrophysiological brain recordings during face perception to investigate sex differences in the neural correlates of face perception and their relationship to social function. Event related potentials (ERP) were recorded from children with ASD while viewing faces, inverted faces, and houses. Relative to males, females showed attenuated response at an ERP marker of face perception, the N170. Among females, but not males, atypical face response was associated with symptom severity. Observed sex differences reflect influential differences in social information processing, and impairment in these features correlates with deficits in social information processing in females, but not males, with ASD. These findings hold significance for future treatment protocols, which should account for differences in males and females with ASD in clinical presentation and neural phenotypes.

Keywords

Autism spectrum disorderSex differencesERPN170Face perception

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. C. Coffman
    • 1
  • L. C. Anderson
    • 1
  • A. J. Naples
    • 1
  • J. C. McPartland
    • 1
  1. 1.Yale Child Study CenterNew HavenUSA