Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 589–599 | Cite as

Sex Differences in Social Perception in Children with ASD

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

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 disorder Sex differences ERP N170 Face perception 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by NIMH R03 MH079908, NICHD PO1HD003008, CTSA Grant Number UL1 RR024139, NIMH K23MH086785, NARSAD Atherton Young Investigator Award, NIMH R21 MH091309, NIMH R01 MH100173 and R01 MH100028. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of the NIH. We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of the funding sources that made this research possible, the parents and children who participated in this study, and several other people who made significant contributions to this research, including Linda Mayes, Robert Schultz, Ami Klin, Danielle Perszyk, Cora Mukerji, Jeffrey Eilbott, Jia Wu, Kevin Pelphrey, and Christopher Bailey.

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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

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