The Perception of Emotions in Spoken Language in Undergraduates with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Preserved Social Skill

  • Boaz M. Ben-DavidEmail author
  • Esther Ben-Itzchak
  • Gil Zukerman
  • Gili Yahav
  • Michal Icht
Original Paper


Identifying emotions in speech is based on the interaction of lexical content and prosody. This may be disrupted in individuals with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (HF-ASD). Undergraduates with HF-ASD (n = 20) and matched typically developed peers (n = 20) were tested using the (Hebrew) Test for Rating of Emotions in Speech. Participants rated the degree to which a target-emotion is present in spoken sentences, in which the emotional-lexical and -prosodic content appear in different combinations from trial to trial. No group differences were found in measures of emotion-identification, selective-attention (focusing on one target-channel) and integration. These preserved abilities can partially explain the high levels of independence and self-control characterizing students with HF-ASD. Support programs may rely on such skills to improve social interactions.


Emotion Speech Autism spectrum disorder High-functioning ASD Lexical content Prosodic content 


Author Contributions

All authors contributed to the research equally. BBD and MI take the leading author responsibility.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare 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 (include name of committee + reference number) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Supplementary material

10803_2019_4297_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 14 kb)


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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Communication, Aging and Neuropsychology Lab (CANlab), Baruch Ivcher School of PsychologyInterdisciplinary Center (IDC) HerzliyaHerzliyaIsrael
  2. 2.Department of Speech-Language PathologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Rehabilitation Sciences InstituteUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Toronto Rehabilitation InstituteUniversity Health Networks (UHN)TorontoCanada
  5. 5.Department of Communication DisordersAriel UniversityArielIsrael
  6. 6.The Autism Center, Department of PediatricsAssaf Harofeh Medical CenterZerifinIsrael

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