Eye-Tracking, Autonomic, and Electrophysiological Correlates of Emotional Face Processing in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder
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- Wagner, J.B., Hirsch, S.B., Vogel-Farley, V.K. et al. J Autism Dev Disord (2013) 43: 188. doi:10.1007/s10803-012-1565-1
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Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have difficulty with social-emotional cues. This study examined the neural, behavioral, and autonomic correlates of emotional face processing in adolescents with ASD and typical development (TD) using eye-tracking and event-related potentials (ERPs) across two different paradigms. Scanning of faces was similar across groups in the first task, but the second task found that face-sensitive ERPs varied with emotional expressions only in TD. Further, ASD showed enhanced neural responding to non-social stimuli. In TD only, attention to eyes during eye-tracking related to faster face-sensitive ERPs in a separate task; in ASD, a significant positive association was found between autonomic activity and attention to mouths. Overall, ASD showed an atypical pattern of emotional face processing, with reduced neural differentiation between emotions and a reduced relationship between gaze behavior and neural processing of faces.