Advertisement

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 38, Issue 8, pp 1534–1541 | Cite as

The ‘Reading the Mind in Films’ Task [Child Version]: Complex Emotion and Mental State Recognition in Children with and without Autism Spectrum Conditions

  • Ofer Golan
  • Simon Baron-Cohen
  • Yael Golan
Original Paper

Abstract

Children with autism spectrum conditions (ASC) have difficulties recognizing others’ emotions. Research has mostly focused on basic emotion recognition, devoid of context. This study reports the results of a new task, assessing recognition of complex emotions and mental states in social contexts. An ASC group (n = 23) was compared to a general population control group (n = 24). Children with ASC performed lower than controls on the task. Using task scores, more than 87% of the participants were allocated to their group. This new test quantifies complex emotion and mental state recognition in life-like situations. Our findings reveal that children with ASC have residual difficulties in this aspect of empathy. The use of language-based compensatory strategies for emotion recognition is discussed.

Keywords

Emotion recognition Complex emotions Empathy Social cognition Childhood Autism spectrum 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Ofer Golan was supported by the Corob Charitable Trust, the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR), The Wingate Foundation, and B’nai B’rith Scholarships. Simon Baron-Cohen was supported by the Medical Research Council (MRC), UK. We would like to thank Sullivan Entertainment International for their permission to use a screenshot from their series. We are grateful to the Wirral Autistic Society, Umbrella Autism Cambridgeshire, the Hertfordshire Autistic Resource Centre, Brookside Family Consultation Clinic, Mayfield Primary School, and Kings Hedges Primary School for their help with recruiting participants, and to Jacqueline Hill, Chris Ashwin, Sally Wheelwright, Sarah Johnson and Emma Chapman for advice and help with this study.

References

  1. Adolphs, R., Sears, L., & Piven, J. (2001). Abnormal processing of social information from faces in autism. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 13, 232–240.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (1994). DSM-IV diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th Edn.). Washington DC: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  3. Baron-Cohen, S. (1992). Out of sight or out of mind? Another look at deception in autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 33, 1141–1155.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baron-Cohen, S. (1995). Mindblindness: An essay on autism and theory of mind. Boston: MIT Press/Bradford Books.Google Scholar
  5. Baron-Cohen, S. (2003). The essential difference: Men, women and the extreme male brain. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  6. Baron-Cohen, S., & Belmonte, M. K. (2005). Autism: A window onto the development of the social and the analytic brain. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 28, 109–126.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baron-Cohen, S., Golan, O., Wheelwright, S., & Hill, J. J. (2004). Mind reading: The interactive guide to emotions. London: Jessica Kingsley Limited (www.jkp.com).Google Scholar
  8. Baron-Cohen, S., O’Riordan, M., Stone, V. E., Jones, R., & Plaisted, K. (1999a). Recognition of faux pas by normally developing children with asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 29(5), 407–418.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Baron-Cohen, S., Ring, H. A., Bullmore, E. T., Wheelwright, S., Ashwin, C., & Williams, S. C. (2000). The amygdala theory of autism. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 24, 355–364.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Baron-Cohen, S., Ring, H. A., Moriarty, J., Schmitz, B., Costa, D., & Ell, P. (1994). Recognition of mental state terms. Clinical findings in children with autism and a functional neuroimaging study of normal adults. British Journal of Psychiatry, 165(5), 640–649.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Baron-Cohen, S., Ring, H. A., Wheelwright, S., Bullmore, E. T., Brammer, M. J., Simmons, A., et al. (1999b). Social intelligence in the normal and autistic brain: An fMRI study. European Journal of Neuroscience, 11, 1891–1898.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Baron-Cohen, S., Spitz, A., & Cross, P. (1993). Can children with autism recognize surprise? Cognition and Emotion, 7, 507–516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Baron-Cohen, S., Wheelwright, S., Spong, A., Scahill, V. L., & Lawson, J. (2001). Are intuitive physics and intuitive psychology independent? A test with children with Asperger Syndrome. Journal of Developmental and Learning Disorders, 5, 47–78.Google Scholar
  14. Bauminger, N. (2004). The expression and understanding of jealousy in children with autism. Development and Psychopathology, 16(1), 157–177.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Boucher, J., Lewis, V., & Collis, G. M. (2000). Voice processing abilities in children with autism, children with specific language impairments, and young typically developing children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 41(7), 847–857.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Capps, L., Yirmiya, N., & Sigman, M. (1992). Understanding of simple and complex emotions in non-retarded children with autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 33, 1169–1182.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Celani, G., Battacchi, M. W., & Arcidiacono, L. (1999). The understanding of the emotional meaning of facial expressions in people with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 29(1), 57–66.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Denham, S. A. (1998). Emotional development in young children. New York; London: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  19. Deruelle, C., Rondan, C., Gepner, B., & Tardif, C. (2004). Spatial frequency and face processing in children with autism and Asperger syndrome. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 34(2), 199–210.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dyck, M. J., Ferguson, K., & Shochet, I. M. (2001). Do autism spectrum disorders differ from each other and from non-spectrum disorders on emotion recognition tests? European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 10, 105–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dziobek, I., Fleck, S., Kalbe, E., Rogers, K., Hassenstab, J., Brand, M., et al. (2006). Introducing MASC: A movie for the assessment of social cognition. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36(5), 623–636.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ekman, P. (1993). Facial expression and emotion. American Psychologist, 48(4), 384–392.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. V. (1971). Constants across cultures in the face and emotion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 17, 124–129.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fein, D., Lucci, D., Braverman, M., & Waterhouse, L. (1992). Comprehension of affect in context in children with pervasive developmental disorders. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 33(7), 1157–1167.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Forster, K. L., & Forster, J. C. (2003). DMDX: A windows display program with millisecond accuracy. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 35, 116–124.Google Scholar
  26. Frith, U. (2003). Autism: Explaining the enigma (2nd Edn.). New York: Blackwell Pub.Google Scholar
  27. Frith, C. D., & Frith, U. (2006). The neural basis of mentalizing. Neuron, 50(4), 531–534.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Frith, U., & Hill, E. (2004). Autism: Mind and brain. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Golan, O., & Baron-Cohen, S. (submitted). The Cambridge Mindreading Face-Voice Battery for children (CAM-C): Testing basic and complex emotion recognition in children with and without Autism Spectrum Conditions.Google Scholar
  30. Golan, O., Baron-Cohen, S., & Hill, J. J. (2006a). The Cambridge Mindreading (CAM) Face-Voice Battery: Testing complex emotion recognition in adults with and without Asperger Syndrome. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36(2), 169–183.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Golan, O., Baron-Cohen, S., Hill, J. J., & Golan, Y. (2006b). The ‘Reading the Mind in Films’ task: Complex emotion recognition in adults with and without autism spectrum conditions. Social Neuroscience, 1(2), 111–123.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Griffiths, P. (1997). What emotions really are: The problem of psychological categories. Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  33. Grossman, J. B., Klin, A., Carter, A. S., & Volkmar, F. R. (2000). Verbal bias in recognition of facial emotions in children with Asperger syndrome. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 41, 369–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hall, G. B., Szechtman, H., & Nahmias, C. (2003). Enhanced salience and emotion recognition in Autism: A PET study. American Journal of Psychiatry, 160(8), 1439–1441.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Happe, F. G. (1994). An advanced test of theory of mind: Understanding of story characters’ thoughts and feelings by able autistic, mentally handicapped, and normal children and adults. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 24, 129–154.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Harris, P. L. (1989). Children and emotion: The development of psychological understanding. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  37. Harris, P. L. (1994). The child’s understanding of emotion: Developmental change and the family environment. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 35(1), 3–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Heavey, L., Phillips, W., Baron-Cohen, S., & Rutter, M. (2000). The awkward moments test: A naturalistic measure of social understanding in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 30, 225–236.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Herba, C., & Phillips, M. (2004). Annotation: Development of facial expression recognition from childhood to adolescence: Behavioural and neurological perspectives. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45(7), 1185–1198.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hillier, A., & Allinson, L. (2002). Understanding embarrassment among those with autism: Breaking down the complex emotion of embarrassment among those with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 32(6), 583–592.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hobson, R. P. (1986a). The autistic child’s appraisal of expressions of emotion. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 27, 321–342.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Hobson, R. P. (1986b). The autistic child’s appraisal of expressions of emotion: A further study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 27, 671–680.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Hobson, R. P. (1994). Understanding persons: The role of affect. In S. Baron-Cohen, H. Tager-Flusberg, & D. J. Cohen (Eds.), Understanding other minds (pp. 204–227). London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Jenkins, J. M., & Astington, J. W. (1996). Cognitive factors and family structure associated with theory of mind development in young children. Developmental Psychology, 32(1), 70–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kasari, C., Chamberlain, B., & Bauminger, N. (2001). Social emotions and social relationships: Can children with autism compensate? In: J. A. Burack, T. Charman, N. Yirmiya, & P. R. Zelazo (Eds.), The development of autism: Perspectives from theory and research (pp. 309–323). Mahwah, NJ, US: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  46. Klin, A., Jones, W., Schultz, R., Volkmar, F., & Cohen, D. J. (2002a). Defining and quantifying the social phenotype in autism. American Journal of Psychiatry, 159, 895–908.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Klin, A., Jones, W., Schultz, R., Volkmar, F., & Cohen, D. J. (2002b). Visual fixation patterns during viewing of naturalistic social situations as predictors of social competence in individuals with autism. Archives of General Psychiatry, 59, 809–816.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Lawson, J. (2003). Depth accessibility difficulties: An alternative conceptualisation of autism spectrum conditions. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 33(2), 189–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Loveland, K. A., Tunali Kotoski, B., Chen, R., & Brelsford, K. A. (1995). Intermodal perception of affect in persons with autism or Down syndrome. Development and Psychopathology, 7, 409–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Loveland, K. A., Tunali Kotoski, B., Chen, Y. R., Ortegon, J., Pearson, D. A., Brelsford, K. A., et al. (1997). Emotion recognition in autism: Verbal and non-verbal information. Development and Psychopathology, 9, 579–593.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Macdonald, H., Rutter, M., Howlin, P., Rios, P., Le Conteur, A., Evered, C., et al. (1989). Recognition and expression of emotional cues by autistic and normal adults. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 30(6), 865–877.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Pierce, K., Glad, K. S., & Schreibman, L. (1997). Social perception in children with autism: An attentional deficit? Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 27(3), 265–282.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Plaisted, K., Saksida, L., Alcantara, J., & Weisblatt, E. (2003). Towards an understanding of the mechanisms of weak central coherence effects: Experiments in visual configural learning and auditory perception. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Series B, Biological Sciences, 358(1430), 375–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Sainsbury, C. (2000). Martian in the playground: Understanding the schoolchild with asperger’s syndrome. London, UK: Lucky Duck Publishing.Google Scholar
  55. Scott, F. J., Baron-Cohen, S., Bolton, P., & Brayne, C. (2002). The CAST (Childhood Asperger Syndrome Test): Preliminary development of a UK screen for mainstream primary-school-age children. Autism, 6, 9–31.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Sodian, B., & Frith, U. (1992). Deception and sabotage in autistic, retarded and normal children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 33, 591–605.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Steele, S., Joseph, R. M., & Tager-Flusberg, H. (2003). Brief report: Developmental change in theory of mind abilities in children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 33(4), 461–467.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Williams, J., Scott, F. J., Stott, C. M., Allison, C., Bolton, P., Baron-Cohen, S., et al. (2005). The CAST (Childhood Asperger Syndrome Test): Test accuracy. Autism, 9(1), 45–68.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. World Health Organisation. (1994). ICD-10 - International classification of diseases (10th Edn.). Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organisation.Google Scholar
  60. Yirmiya, N., Sigman, M. D., Kasari, C., & Mundy, P. (1992). Empathy and cognition in high-functioning children with autism. Child Development, 63, 150–160.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Autism Research Centre, Department of PsychiatryUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Faculty of EducationUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyBar-Ilan UniversityRamat-GanIsrael

Personalised recommendations