Advertisement

The Nature of Facial Emotion Recognition Impairments in Children on the Autism Spectrum

  • Nathaniel A. ShanokEmail author
  • Nancy Aaron Jones
  • Nikola N. Lucas
Original Article

Abstract

This study examined socio-emotional skills, utilizing a facial emotion recognition (FER) task featuring unfamiliar and familiar faces, in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) compared to typically developing (TD) children. Results showed that the TD children were more proficient on the FER overall whereas ASD children recognized familiar expressions more precisely than unfamiliar ones. Further, ASD children did not differ from TD children in recognizing happy expressions but ASD children were less skilled with recognizing negative expressions. Findings suggest that ASD children possess more adept FER abilities than previously thought especially for important social others. Ultimately, a task featuring an array of positive and negative familiar and unfamiliar expressions may provide a more comprehensive assessment of socio-emotional abilities in ASD children.

Keywords

Autism spectrum disorder Facial emotion recognition Developmental disorders Socio-emotional development Emotional familiarity 

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All author declares that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

References

  1. 1.
    Aldred C, Green J, Adams C (2004) A new social communication intervention for children with autism: pilot randomized controlled treatment study suggesting effectiveness. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 45:1420–1430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Dawson G, Meltzoff AN, Osterling J, Rinaldi J, Brown E (1998) Children with autism fail to orient to naturally occurring social stimuli. J Autism Dev Disord 28:479–485CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Baron-Cohen S, Ring HA, Wheelwright S, Bullmore ET, Brammer MJ, Simmons A, Williams SC (1999) Social intelligence in the normal and autistic brain: an fMRI study. Eur J Neurosci 11:1891–1898CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Leppänen JM, Nelson CA (2006) The development and neural bases of facial emotion recognition. Adv Child Dev Behav 34:207–246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Harms MB, Martin A, Wallace GL (2010) Facial emotion recognition in autism spectrum disorders: a review of behavioral and neuroimaging studies. Neuropsychol Rev 20:290–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Balconi M, Amenta S, Ferrari C (2012) Emotional decoding in facial expression, scripts and videos: a comparison between normal, autistic and Asperger children. Res Autism Spectr Disord 6:193–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Lombardo MV, Chakrabarti B, Bullmore ET, Baron-Cohen S (2011) Specialization of right temporo-parietal junction for mentalizing and its relation to social impairments in autism. Neuroimage 56:1832–1838CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Dawson G, Carver L, Meltzoff AN, Panagiotides H, McPartland J, Webb SJ (2002) Neural correlates of face and object recognition in young children with autism spectrum disorder, developmental delay, and typical development. Child Dev 73:700–717CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Lahaie A, Mottron L, Arguin M, Berthiaume C, Jemel B, Saumier D (2006) Face perception in high-functioning autistic adults: evidence for superior processing of face parts, not for a configural face-processing deficit. Neuropsychology 20:30–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Celani G, Battacchi MW, Arcidiacono L (1999) The understanding of the emotional meaning of facial expressions in people with Autism. J Autism Dev Disord 29:57–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Capps L, Yirmiya N, Sigman M (1992) Understanding of simple and complex emotions in non-retarded children with autism. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 33:1169–1182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Robel L, Ennouri K, Piana H, Vaivre-Douret L, Perier A, Flament MF et al (2004) Discrimination of face identities and expressions in children with autism: same or different? Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 13:227–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Begeer S, de Rosnay M, Fink E, Wierda M, Koot HM (2014) Accuracy and response time for the recognition of facial emotions in a large sample of children with autism spectrum disorders. J Autism Dev Disord 44:2363Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Pierce K, Redcay E (2008) Fusiform function in children with an autism spectrum disorder is a matter of “who”. Biol Psychiatry 64:552–560CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Dalton KM, Nacewicz BM, Johnstone T, Schaefer HS, Gernsbacher MA, Goldsmith HH, Davidson RJ (2005) Gaze fixation and the neural circuitry of face processing in autism. Nat Neurosci 8:519CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Pierce K, Haist F, Sedaghat F, Courchesne E (2004) The brain response to personally familiar faces in autism: findings of fusiform activity and beyond. Brain 127:2703–2716CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Enticott PG, Kennedy HA, Johnston PJ, Rinehart NJ, Tonge BJ, Taffe JR et al (2014) Emotion recognition of static and dynamic faces in autism spectrum disorder. Cognit Emot 28:1110–1118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Herba CM, Benson P, Landau S, Russell T, Goodwin C, Lemche E et al (2008) Impact of familiarity upon children’s developing facial expression recognition. Clin Child Psychol Psychiatry 49:201–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Gagnon M, Gosselin P, Maassarani R (2014) Children’s ability to recognize emotions from partial and complete facial expressions. J Genet Psychol 175:416–430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Dawson G, Webb SJ, Carver L, Panagiotides H, McPartland J (2004) Young children with autism show atypical brain responses to fearful versus neutral facial expressions of emotion. Dev Sci 7:340–359CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Wong TK, Fung PC, Chua SE, McAlonan GM (2008) Abnormal spatiotemporal processing of emotional facial expressions in childhood autism: dipole source analysis of event-related potentials. Eur J Neurosci 28:407–416CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Gilliam JE (2006) Gilliam autism rating scale: GARS 2. Pro-ed, Austin, TXGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Tottenham N, Tanaka JW, Leon AC, McCarry T, Nurse M, Hare TA et al (2009) The NimStim set of facial expressions: judgments from untrained research participants. Psychiatry Res 168:242–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Mancini G, Agnoli S, Baldaro B, Ricci Bitti PE, Surcinelli P (2013) Facial expressions of emotions: recognition accuracy and affective reactions during late childhood. J Psychol 147:599–617CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Kaufmann JM, Schweinberger SR (2004) Expression influences the recognition of familiar faces. Perception 33:399–408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Yeung MK, Sze SL, Chan AS, Han YMY (2014) Altered right frontal cortical connectivity during facial emotion recognition in children with autism spectrum disorders. Res Autism Spectr Disord 8:1567–1577CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Tantam D, Monaghan L, Nicholson H, Stirling J (1989) Autistic children’s ability to interpret faces: a research note. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 30:623–630CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Nuske HJ, Vivanti G, Dissanayake C (2014) Reactivity to fearful expressions of familiar and unfamiliar people in children with autism. J Neurodev Disord 6:14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Widen SC, Russell JA (2010) Differentiation in preschooler’s categories of emotion. Emotion 10:651–661CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Kliemann D, Dziobek I, Hatri A, Steimke R, Heekeren HR (2010) Atypical reflexive gaze patterns on emotional faces in autism spectrum disorders. J Neurosci 30:12281–12287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Schurgin MW, Nelson J, Iida S, Ohira H, Chiao JY, Franconeri SL (2014) Eye movements during emotion recognition in faces. J Vision 14:14–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Rydell AM, Berlin L, Bohlin G (2003) Emotionality, emotion regulation, and adaptation among 5-to 8-year-old children. Emotion 3:30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Uljarevic M, Hamilton A (2013) Recognition of emotions in autism: a formal meta-analysis. J Autism Dev Disord 43:1517–1526CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Austin PC, Brunner LJ (2003) Type I error inflation in the presence of a ceiling effect. Am Stat 57:97–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA

Personalised recommendations