Atypical facial emotion recognition in children with autism spectrum disorders: exploratory analysis on the role of task demands

Emese Nagy (Lead / Corresponding author), Louise Prentice, Tess Wakeling

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Abstract

People with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have difficulty with socio-emotional functioning; however, research on facial emotion recognition (FER) remains inconclusive. Individuals with ASD might be using atypical compensatory mechanisms that are exhausted in more complex tasks. This study compared response accuracy and speed on a forced-choice FER task using neutral, happy, sad, disgust, anger, fear and surprise expressions under both timed and non-timed conditions in children with and without ASD (n = 18). The results showed that emotion recognition accuracy was comparable in the two groups in the non-timed condition. However, in the timed condition, children with ASD were less accurate in identifying anger and surprise compared to children without ASD. This suggests that people with ASD have atypical processing of anger and surprise that might become challenged under time pressure. Understanding these atypical processes, and the environmental factors that challenge them, could be beneficial in supporting socio-emotional functioning in people ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)819-833
Number of pages15
JournalPerception
Volume50
Issue number9
Early online date25 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

Keywords

  • ASD
  • disorders
  • emotion perception
  • facial perception

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