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Autism Res. 2016 Sep;9(9):1002-11. doi: 10.1002/aur.1583. Epub 2016 Jan 18.

A selective impairment in extracting fearful information from another's eyes in Autism.

Author information

1
Key Laboratory of Brain Functional Genomics, Ministry of Education, Shanghai Key Laboratory of Brain Functional Genomics, School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, East China Normal University, China. ynsong@psy.ecnu.edu.cn, yongning_song@kyudai.jp.
2
Faculty of Human Development and Education, Kyoto Women's University, Kyoto, Japan.
3
Key Laboratory of Brain Functional Genomics, Ministry of Education, Shanghai Key Laboratory of Brain Functional Genomics, School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, East China Normal University, China.

Abstract

An atypical pattern of facial expression processing in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been discussed in previous studies. In this study, we systematically examined the hypothesis of selective abnormality of gaze pattern of in children with ASD using three emotion judgment "bubble" tasks. In this study, we used a data-driven driven technique, referred to as "Bubbles" to examine the hypothesis that ASD children will not show a general but rather a selective abnormality in extracting eyes information expressed by different emotions. Results indicated that similar to non-ASD individuals, ASD individuals used information from other people's eyes to judge happiness and anger. In contrast, ASD individuals showed a remarkable reduction in processing the eye region in fearful face, together with enhanced processing of the mouth, compared with the control group. The results suggest that a selective abnormality in extracting eyes information of fearful face without abnormality in processing eyes area of other basic facial emotions is a key and characteristic feature of autistic facial cognition. To our knowledge, this finding regarding the selective abnormality in extracting fearful information from another's eyes in ASDs has never been reported in previous studies and the information gathered as a part of this pilot research project has important clinical implications for social information processing training. For example, as children with ASD are more vulnerable to fear processing, training related to fear should be stressed. Autism Res 2016, 9: 1002-1011.

KEYWORDS:

autism spectrum disorders; bubbles; poor eye gaze; social cognition

PMID:
26777988
DOI:
10.1002/aur.1583
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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