Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Affective response to eye contact and face recognition ability in children with ASD

  • ROBERT M. JOSEPH (a1), KELLY EHRMAN (a1), REBECCA MCNALLY (a1) and BRANDON KEEHN (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

This study tested the hypothesis that affective arousal in response to eye contact is negatively associated with face identification skills in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Participants were 20 children and adolescents with ASD and 20 age- and IQ-matched typically developing (TD) children. Skin conductance response (SCR), a psychophysiological measure of autonomic arousal, was collected while participants viewed faces with gaze directed toward them and faces with gaze averted away from them. Participants also completed an independent match-to-sample face recognition test. Children with ASD exhibited significantly larger SCRs than TD children to faces with direct and averted gaze. There were no differences between SCRs to direct gaze and averted gaze in either group. Children with ASD exhibited a marginally significant decrease in face recognition accuracy relative to TD children, particularly when face recognition depended on the eye region of the face. Face recognition accuracy among children with ASD was negatively correlated with the amplitude of SCRs to direct gaze but not to averted gaze. There was no association between face recognition accuracy and SCRs to gaze in the TD group. These findings suggest that autonomic reactivity to eye contact may interfere with face identity processing in some children with ASD. (JINS, 2008, 14, 947–955.)

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Affective response to eye contact and face recognition ability in children with ASD
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Affective response to eye contact and face recognition ability in children with ASD
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Affective response to eye contact and face recognition ability in children with ASD
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Corresponding author
Correspondence and reprint requests to: Robert M. Joseph, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Boston University School of Medicine, 715 Albany St., L-814, Boston, MA 02118. E-mail: rmjoseph@bu.edu
References
Hide All
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV, 4th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association Press.
Back E., Ropar D., & Mitchell P. (2007). Do the eyes have it? Inferring mental states from animated faces in autism. Child Development, 78, 397411.
Baron-Cohen S., Baldwin D.A., Crowson M. (1997a). Do children with autism use the speaker's direction of gaze strategy to crack the code of language? Child Development, 68, 4857.
Baron-Cohen S., Campbell R., Karmiloff-Smith A., Grant J., & Walker J. (1995). Are children with autism blind to the mentalistic significance of the eyes? British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 13, 379398.
Baron-Cohen S., Wheelwright S., & Jolliffe T. (1997b). Is there a “language of the eyes”? Evidence from normal adults and adults with autism or Asperger syndrome. Visual Cognition, 4, 311331.
Behrmann M., Avidan G., Leonard G.L., Kimchi R., Luna B., Humphreys K., & Minshew N. (2007). Configural processing in autism and its relationship to face processing. Neuropsychologia, 44, 110129.
Boucher J. & Lewis V. (1992). Unfamiliar face recognition in relatively able autistic children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 33, 843859.
Courchesne E., Yeung-Courchesne R., & Pierce K. (1999). Biological and behavioral heterogeneity in autism: Roles of pleiotropy and epigenesis. In Broman S.H. & Fletcher J.M. (Eds.), The Changing Nervous System: Neurobehavioral Consequences of Early Brain Disorders (pp. 292338). New York: Oxford University Press.
Damasio A.R. (1999). The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness. New York: Harcourt Brace.
Davidson R.J. & Irwin W. (1999). The functional neuroanatomy of emotion and affective style. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 3, 1121.
Davies S., Bishop D., Manstead A.S., & Tantam D. (1994). Face perception in children with autism and Asperger's syndrome. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 35, 10331057.
Dawson M.E., Schell A.M., & Filion D.L. (2000). The electrodermal system. In Cacioppo J.T., Tassinary L.G., & Bernston G.G. (Eds.), Handbook of Psychophysiology (2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Elliott C.D. (1990). Differential Ability Scales: Introductory and Technical Handbook. New York: The Psychological Corporation.
Geschwind D. (2007). Autism: Searching for coherence. Biological Psychiatry, 62, 949950.
Goldstein A.G. & Mackenberg E. (1966). Recognition of human faces from isolated facial features. Psychonomic Science, 6, 149150.
Gosselin F. & Schyns P.G. (2001). Bubbles: A technique to reveal the use of information in recognition tasks. Vision Research, 41, 22612271.
Gupta A.R. & State M.W. (2007). Recent advances in the genetics of autism. Biological Psychiatry, 61, 429437.
Hutt C. & Ounsted C. (1966). The biological significance of gaze aversion with particular reference to the syndrome of infantile autism. Behavioral Science, 11, 346356.
Joseph R.M. & Tager-Flusberg H. (1997). An investigation of attention and affect in children with autism and Down syndrome. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 4, 385396.
Joseph R.M. & Tanaka J. (2003). Holistic and part-based face recognition in children with autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 44, 529542.
Kasari C., Sigman M., & Yirmiya N. (1993). Focused and social attention of autistic children in interactions with familiar and unfamiliar adults: A comparison of autistic, mentally retarded, and normal children. Development and Psychopathology, 5, 403414.
Klin A., Jones W., Schultz R., Volkmar F., & Cohen D.J. (2002). Visual fixation patterns during viewing of naturalistic social situations as predictors of social competence in individuals with autism. Archives of General Psychiatry, 59, 809816.
Kylliainen A. & Hietanen J.K. (2006). Skin conductance responses to another person's gaze in children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36, 517525.
Lahaie A., Mottron L., Arguin M., Berthiaume C., Jemel B., & Saumier D. (2006). Face perception in high-functioning autistic adults: Evidence for superior processing of face parts, not for a configural face processing deficit. Neuropsychology, 20, 3041.
Lainhart J.E. (1999). Psychiatric problems in individuals with autism, their parents and siblings. International Review of Psychiatry, 11, 278298.
Langdell T. (1978). Recognition of faces: An approach to the study of autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 19, 255268.
Levinson D.F. & Edelberg R. (1985). Scoring criteria for response latency and habituation in electrodermal research: A critique. Psychophysiology, 22, 417426.
Leyfer O.T., Folstein S.E., Bacalman S., Davis N.O., Dinh E., Morgan J., Tager-Flusberg H., & Lainhart J.E. (2006). Comorbid psychiatric disorders in children with autism: Interview development and rates of disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36, 849861.
Lord C., Rutter M., DiLavore P.C., & Risi S. (1999). Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule–WPS (ADOS-WPS). Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.
McKelvie S.J. (1976). The role of eyes and mouth in the memory of a face. American Journal of Psychology, 89, 311323.
Merin N., Young G.S., Ozonoff S., & Rogers S.J. (2007). Visual fixation patterns during reciprocal social interaction distinguish a subgroup of 6-month-old infants at-risk for autism from comparison infants. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 108121.
Mirenda P., Donnellan A., & Yoder D. (1983). Gaze behavior: A new look at an old problem. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 13, 397409.
Mundy P., Sigman M., Ungerer J., & Sherman T. (1986). Defining the social deficits in autism: The contribution of nonverbal communication measures. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 27, 657669.
Nacewicz B.M., Dalton K.M., Johnstone T., Long M., McAuliff E.M., Oakes T.R., Alexander A.L., & Davidson R.J. (2006). Amygdala volume and nonverbal social impairment in adolescent and adult males with autism. Archives of General Psychiatry, 63, 14171428.
Osterling J. & Dawson G. (1994). Early recognition of children with autism: A study of first birthday home videotapes. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 24, 247257.
Osterling J.A., Dawson G., & Munson J.A. (2002). Early recognition of 1-year-old infants with autism spectrum disorder versus mental retardation. Development and Psychopathology, 14, 239251.
Pelphrey K.A., Morris J.P., & McCarthy G. (2005). Neural basis of eye gaze processing deficits in autism. Brain, 128, 10381048.
Pelphrey K.A., Sasson N.J., Reznick J.S., Paul G., Goldman B.D., & Piven J. (2002). Visual scanning of faces in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 32, 249261.
Phillips W., Baron-Cohen S., & Rutter M. (1992). The role of eye contact in the detection of goals: Evidence from normal toddlers and children with autism or mental handicap. Development and Psychopathology, 4, 375383.
Piven J. (1999). Genetic liability for autism: The behavioural expression in relatives. International Review of Psychiatry, 11, 299308.
Rouse H., Donnelly N., Hadwin J.A., & Brown T. (2004). Do children with autism perceive second-order relational features? The case of the Thatcher illusion. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 45, 12461257.
Rutter M., Le Couteur A., & Lord C. (2003). Autism Diagnostic Interview–Revised. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.
Sasson N.J. (2006). The development of face processing in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36, 381394.
Schumann C.M. & Amaral D.G. (2006). Stereological analysis of amygdala neuron number in autism. The Journal of Neuroscience, 26, 76747679.
Schumann C.M., Hamstra J., Goodlin-Jones B.L., Lotspeich L.J., Kwon H., Buonocore M.H., Lammers C.R., Reiss A.L., & Amaral D.G. (2004). The amygdala is enlarged in children but not adolescents with autism; the hippocampus is enlarged at all ages. The Journal of Neuroscience, 24, 63926401.
Sergent J. (1984). An investigation into component and configural processes underlying face perception. The British Journal of Psychology, 75, 221242.
Sparks B.F., Friedman S.D., Shaw D.W., Aylward E.H., Echelard D., Artru A.A., Maravilla K.R., Giedd J.N., Munson J., Dawson G., & Dager S.R. (2002). Brain structural abnormalities in young children with autism spectrum disorder. Neurology, 59, 184192.
Spezio M.L., Adolphs R., Hurley R.S., & Piven J. (2006). Abnormal use of facial information in high-functioning autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 929939
Steiger J.H. (1980). Tests for comparing elements of a correlation matrix. Psychological Bulletin, 88, 245258.
Swettenham J., Baron-Cohen S., Charman T., Cox A., Baird G., Drew A., Rees L., & Wheelwright S. (1998). The frequency and distribution of spontaneous attention shifts between social and non-social stimuli in autistic, typically developing, and non-autistic developmentally delayed infants. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 9, 747753.
Tabachnick B.G. & Fidell L.S. (2001). Using Multivariate Statistics (4th ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Tanaka J.W. & Farah M.J. (1993). Parts and wholes in face recognition. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 46A, 225245.
Volkmar F.R. & Mayes L.C. (1990). Gaze behavior in autism. Development and Psychopathology, 2, 6169.
Yirmiya N. & Ozonoff S. (2007). The very early autism phenotype. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 111.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society
  • ISSN: 1355-6177
  • EISSN: 1469-7661
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-international-neuropsychological-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 18
Total number of PDF views: 246 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 389 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 22nd October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.