Typical Emotion Processing for Cartoon but not for Real Faces in Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders

  • Delphine B. RossetEmail author
  • Cécilie Rondan
  • David Da Fonseca
  • Andreia Santos
  • Brigitte Assouline
  • Christine Deruelle
Original Paper


This study evaluated whether atypical face processing in autism extends from human to cartoon faces for which they show a greater interest. Twenty children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) were compared to two groups of typically developing children, matched on chronological and mental age. They processed the emotional expressions of real faces, human cartoon and non-human cartoon faces. Children with ASD were as capable as controls in processing emotional expressions, but strategies differed according to the type of face. Controls relied on a configural strategy with all faces. By contrast, ASD children exploited this typical configural strategy with cartoons but used a local strategy with real faces. This atypical visual processing style is discussed in the context of face expertise.


Autism Face Emotional expressions Cartoon Children Inversion effect 



We are grateful to the children and their parents for their participation in the study. We also wish to thank the staff of the Autism Resource Centres of Marseille and St Egrève. This research was supported by SEDSU (FP6-2003-NEST-PATH).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Delphine B. Rosset
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Cécilie Rondan
    • 1
    • 3
  • David Da Fonseca
    • 2
  • Andreia Santos
    • 1
  • Brigitte Assouline
    • 3
  • Christine Deruelle
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)INCMMarseille cedex 20France
  2. 2.Centre Ressources AutismeHopital Ste MargueriteMarseilleFrance
  3. 3.Centre Alpin de Diagnostic Précoce de l’AutismeHopital St EgrèveSt Egreve cedexFrance

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