Facial Emotion Recognition in Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Review of Behavioral and Neuroimaging Studies
- 11k Downloads
Behavioral studies of facial emotion recognition (FER) in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have yielded mixed results. Here we address demographic and experiment-related factors that may account for these inconsistent findings. We also discuss the possibility that compensatory mechanisms might enable some individuals with ASD to perform well on certain types of FER tasks in spite of atypical processing of the stimuli, and difficulties with real-life emotion recognition. Evidence for such mechanisms comes in part from eye-tracking, electrophysiological, and brain imaging studies, which often show abnormal eye gaze patterns, delayed event-related-potential components in response to face stimuli, and anomalous activity in emotion-processing circuitry in ASD, in spite of intact behavioral performance during FER tasks. We suggest that future studies of FER in ASD: 1) incorporate longitudinal (or cross-sectional) designs to examine the developmental trajectory of (or age-related changes in) FER in ASD and 2) employ behavioral and brain imaging paradigms that can identify and characterize compensatory mechanisms or atypical processing styles in these individuals.
KeywordsAutism Face perception Emotion Neuroimaging Eye-tracking Electrophysiology
This research was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the NIH, National Institute of Mental Health.
The authors declare that no conflicts of interest are associated with the preparation of this article.
- Adolphs, R., Sears, L., & Piven, J. (2001). Abnormal processing of social information from faces in autism. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 13(2), 232–240.Google Scholar
- Bailey, A. J., Braetigam, S., Jousmaki, V., & Swithenby, S. J. (2005). Abnormal activation of face processing systems at early and intermediate latency in individuals with autism spectrum disorder: a magnetoencephalographic study. European Journal of Neuroscience, 21(9), 2575–2585.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Bal, E., Harden, E., Lamb, D., Van Hecke, A. V., Denver, J. W., & Porges, S. W. (2010). Emotion recognition in children with autism spectrum disorders: relations to eye gaze and autonomic state. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40(3), 358–370.Google Scholar
- Corbett, B. A., Carmean, V., Ravizza, S., Wendelken, C., Henry, M. L., Carter, C., et al. (2009). A functional and structural study of emotion and face processing in children with autism. Psychiatry Research, 173(3), 196–205.Google Scholar
- Critchley, H. D., Daly, E. M., Bullmore, E. T., Williams, S. C. R., Van Amelsvoort, T., Robertson, D. M., et al. (2000). The functional neuroanatomy of social behaviour—Changes in cerebral blood flow when people with autistic disorder process facial expressions. Brain, 123, 2203–2212.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Dehaene-Lambertz, G., Hertz-Pannier, L., Dubois, J., Meriaux, S., Roche, A., Sigman, M., et al. (2006). Functional organization of perisylvian activation during presentation of sentences in preverbal infants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 103(38), 14240–14245.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Golan, O., Ashwin, E., Granader, Y., McClintock, S., Day, K., Legget, V., et al. (2010). Enhancing emotion recognition in children with autism spectrum conditions: an intervention using animated vehicles with real emotional faces. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40, 269–279.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Grossman, R. B., & Tager-Flusberg, H. (2008). Reading faces for information about words and emotions in adolescents with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 2(4), 681–695.Google Scholar
- Kanner, L. (1943). Autistic disturbances of affective contact. Nervous Child, 2, 217–250.Google Scholar
- Law Smith, M. J., Montagne, B., Perrett, M. G., & Gallagher, L. (2010). Detecting subtle facial emotion recognition deficits in high-functioning autism using dynamic stimuli of varying intensities. Neuropsychologia. In press.Google Scholar
- Philip, R. C. M., Whalley, H. C., Stanfield, A. C., Sprengelmeyer, R., Santos, I. M., Young, A. W., et al. (2010). Deficits in facial, body movement, and vocal emotional processing in autism spectrum disorders. Psychological Medicine.Google Scholar
- Piggot, J., Kwon, H., Mobbs, D., Blasey, C., Lotspeich, L., Menon, V., et al. (2004). Emotional attribution in high-functioning individuals with autistic spectrum disorder: a functional imaging study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 43(4), 473–480.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Proposed revision: APA DSM-5. 299.00 (2010). Autistic Disorder. Retrieved from http://www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevisions/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=94#.
- Schultz, R. T., Gauthier, I., Klin, A., Fulbright, R. K., Anderson, A. W., Volkmar, F., et al. (2000). Abnormal ventral temporal cortical activity during face discrimination among individuals with autism and asperger syndrome. Archives of General Psychiatry, 57(4), 331–40.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Tardif, C., Laine, F., Rodriguez, M., & Gepner, B. (2007). Slowing down presentation of facial movements and vocal sounds enhances facial expression recognition and induces facial-vocal imitation in children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37(8), 1469–84.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar