Atypical Social Judgment and Sensitivity to Perceptual Cues in Autism Spectrum Disorders
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Evaluation of faces is an important dimension of social relationships. A degraded sensitivity to facial perceptual cues might contribute to atypical social interactions in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The current study investigated whether face based social judgment is atypical in ASD and if so, whether it could be related to a degraded sensitivity to facial perceptual cues. Individuals with ASD (n = 33) and IQ- and age-matched controls (n = 38) were enrolled in this study. Watching a series of photographic or synthetic faces, they had to judge them for “kindness”. In synthetic stimuli, the amount of perceptual cues available could be either large or small. We observed that social judgment was atypical in the ASD group on photographic stimuli, but, contrarily to the prediction based on the degraded sensitivity hypothesis, analyses on synthetic stimuli found a similar performance and a similar effect of the amount of perceptual cues in both groups. Further studies on perceptual differences between photographs and synthetic pictures of faces might help understand atypical social judgment in ASD.
KeywordsAutism Social judgment Face processing Social cognition Perception
We thank participants and their families who took of their time to take part to this study. The data for this study were collected as part of the C0733 study, a program of Institut National pour la Santé et la Recherche Médicale (INSERM). Further support came from Fondation FondaMental, Agence Nationale de la Recherche (Contracts ANR-09-BLAN-0327 SOCODEV, ANR-10-LABX-0087 IEC and ANR-10-IDEX-0001-02 PSL), Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Paris and the Centre d’investigation Clinique de l’Hôpital Robert-Debré. BFA was granted by Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, AL by the french Académie de Médecine, Richard Delorme by CNR.
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