Strength of lateralisation for processing facial emotion in relation to autistic traits in individuals without autism

Matei Vladeanu, Ewa Monteith-Hodge, Victoria J. Bourne

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    5 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    A great number of studies have shown that non-clinical individuals rely predominantly on the right hemisphere to process facial emotion. Previous studies have shown that males suffering from Asperger's syndrome show a typical right hemisphere bias for processing facial emotion (happiness and sadness) but a reduced right hemisphere bias for processing facial identity. This study looks at the lateralisation of all six basic emotions using the chimeric faces test in 64 non-clinical participants (32 males, 32 females) and correlates it with their autistic traits measured using the Broad Autistic Phenotype Questionnaire. For males only, regression analyses showed a relationship between the aloof personality trait and lateralisation for fear, happiness, and surprise. Males with high autistic scores on the aloof personality subscale (showing a lack of interest in social interaction) were more strongly lateralised to the right hemisphere for processing fear, happiness, and surprise. For males there was no relationship with anger, disgust, sadness, or non-facial stimuli, and for females there were no significant relationships at all. The autistic traits of rigidity and pragmatic language were not significant predictors of emotion lateralisation. The over-reliance on the right hemisphere for processing facial emotion in males seems to support the idea that the autistic brain could be seen as hyper-masculinised, possibly due to prenatal testosterone exposure.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)438-452
    Number of pages15
    JournalLaterality
    Volume17
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

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