Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 57
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Mazurek, Micah O. Engelhardt, Christopher R. and Clark, Kelsey E. 2015. Video games from the perspective of adults with autism spectrum disorder. Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 51, p. 122.

    TAGER-FLUSBERG, HELEN 2008. Cognitive neuroscience of autism. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, Vol. 14, Issue. 06, p. 917.

    Zaki, Safa R. and Johnson, Shannon A. 2013. The Role of Gaze Direction in Face Memory in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism Research, Vol. 6, Issue. 4, p. 280.

    Keehn, Brandon Müller, Ralph-Axel and Townsend, Jeanne 2013. Atypical attentional networks and the emergence of autism. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Vol. 37, Issue. 2, p. 164.

    South, Mikle Larson, Michael J. White, Sarah E. Dana, Julianne and Crowley, Michael J. 2011. Better fear conditioning is associated with reduced symptom severity in autism spectrum disorders. Autism Research, Vol. 4, Issue. 6, p. 412.

    Mazurek, Micah O. 2013. Social media use among adults with autism spectrum disorders. Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 29, Issue. 4, p. 1709.

    Picard, R. W. 2009. Future affective technology for autism and emotion communication. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Vol. 364, Issue. 1535, p. 3575.

    Mathersul, Danielle McDonald, Skye and Rushby, Jacqueline A. 2013. Automatic facial responses to briefly presented emotional stimuli in autism spectrum disorder. Biological Psychology, Vol. 94, Issue. 2, p. 397.

    Mathersul, Danielle McDonald, Skye and Rushby, Jacqueline A. 2013. Automatic facial responses to affective stimuli in high-functioning adults with autism spectrum disorder. Physiology & Behavior, Vol. 109, p. 14.

    Hughes, John R. 2009. Update on autism: A review of 1300 reports published in 2008. Epilepsy & Behavior, Vol. 16, Issue. 4, p. 569.

    Wilson, C. E. Brock, J. and Palermo, R. 2010. Attention to social stimuli and facial identity recognition skills in autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, Vol. 54, Issue. 12, p. 1104.

    Helminen, Terhi M. Kaasinen, Suvi M. and Hietanen, Jari K. 2011. Eye contact and arousal: The effects of stimulus duration. Biological Psychology, Vol. 88, Issue. 1, p. 124.

    Senju, Atsushi 2013. Atypical development of spontaneous social cognition in autism spectrum disorders. Brain and Development, Vol. 35, Issue. 2, p. 96.

    Weigelt, Sarah Koldewyn, Kami and Kanwisher, Nancy 2012. Face identity recognition in autism spectrum disorders: A review of behavioral studies. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Vol. 36, Issue. 3, p. 1060.

    Vivanti, Giacomo and Dissanayake, Cheryl 2014. Propensity to Imitate in Autism Is Not Modulated by the Model's Gaze Direction: An Eye-Tracking Study. Autism Research, Vol. 7, Issue. 3, p. 392.

    Macefield, Vaughan G. 2009. Developments in autonomic research: a review of the latest literature. Clinical Autonomic Research, Vol. 19, Issue. 3, p. 133.

    Louwerse, A. van der Geest, J.N. Tulen, J.H.M. van der Ende, J. Van Gool, A.R. Verhulst, F.C. and Greaves-Lord, K. 2013. Effects of eye gaze directions of facial images on looking behaviour and autonomic responses in adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Vol. 7, Issue. 9, p. 1043.

    Kaartinen, Miia Puura, Kaija Mäkelä, Tiina Rannisto, Mervi Lemponen, Riina Helminen, Mika Salmelin, Raili Himanen, Sari-Leena and Hietanen, Jari K. 2012. Autonomic Arousal to Direct Gaze Correlates with Social Impairments Among Children with ASD. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Vol. 42, Issue. 9, p. 1917.

    White, Susan W. Mazefsky, Carla A. Dichter, Gabriel S. Chiu, Pearl H. Richey, John A. and Ollendick, Thomas H. 2014. Social-cognitive, physiological, and neural mechanisms underlying emotion regulation impairments: understanding anxiety in autism spectrum disorder. International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, Vol. 39, p. 22.

    Nuske, Heather J. Vivanti, Giacomo and Dissanayake, Cheryl 2015. No Evidence of Emotional Dysregulation or Aversion to Mutual Gaze in Preschoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Eye-Tracking Pupillometry Study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Vol. 45, Issue. 11, p. 3433.

  • Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, Volume 14, Issue 6
  • November 2008, pp. 947-955

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

  • DOI:
  • Published online: 27 October 2008

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.)

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:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

E. Back , D. Ropar , & P. Mitchell (2007). Do the eyes have it? Inferring mental states from animated faces in autism. Child Development, 78, 397411.

S. Baron-Cohen , D.A. Baldwin , M. Crowson (1997a). Do children with autism use the speaker's direction of gaze strategy to crack the code of language? Child Development, 68, 4857.

S. Baron-Cohen , R. Campbell , A. Karmiloff-Smith , J. Grant , & J. Walker (1995). Are children with autism blind to the mentalistic significance of the eyes? British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 13, 379398.

S. Baron-Cohen , S. Wheelwright , & T. Jolliffe (1997b). Is there a “language of the eyes”? Evidence from normal adults and adults with autism or Asperger syndrome. Visual Cognition, 4, 311331.

M. Behrmann , G. Avidan , G.L. Leonard , R. Kimchi , B. Luna , K. Humphreys , & N. Minshew (2007). Configural processing in autism and its relationship to face processing. Neuropsychologia, 44, 110129.

J. Boucher & V. Lewis (1992). Unfamiliar face recognition in relatively able autistic children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 33, 843859.

R.J. Davidson & W. Irwin (1999). The functional neuroanatomy of emotion and affective style. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 3, 1121.

S. Davies , D. Bishop , A.S. Manstead , & D. Tantam (1994). Face perception in children with autism and Asperger's syndrome. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 35, 10331057.

D. Geschwind (2007). Autism: Searching for coherence. Biological Psychiatry, 62, 949950.

A.G. Goldstein & E. Mackenberg (1966). Recognition of human faces from isolated facial features. Psychonomic Science, 6, 149150.

F. Gosselin & P.G. Schyns (2001). Bubbles: A technique to reveal the use of information in recognition tasks. Vision Research, 41, 22612271.

A.R. Gupta & M.W. State (2007). Recent advances in the genetics of autism. Biological Psychiatry, 61, 429437.

C. Hutt & C. Ounsted (1966). The biological significance of gaze aversion with particular reference to the syndrome of infantile autism. Behavioral Science, 11, 346356.

R.M. Joseph & J. Tanaka (2003). Holistic and part-based face recognition in children with autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 44, 529542.

A. Klin , W. Jones , R. Schultz , F. Volkmar , & D.J. Cohen (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.

A. Kylliainen & J.K. Hietanen (2006). Skin conductance responses to another person's gaze in children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36, 517525.

A. Lahaie , L. Mottron , M. Arguin , C. Berthiaume , B. Jemel , & D. Saumier (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.

J.E. Lainhart (1999). Psychiatric problems in individuals with autism, their parents and siblings. International Review of Psychiatry, 11, 278298.

T. Langdell (1978). Recognition of faces: An approach to the study of autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 19, 255268.

D.F. Levinson & R. Edelberg (1985). Scoring criteria for response latency and habituation in electrodermal research: A critique. Psychophysiology, 22, 417426.

O.T. Leyfer , S.E. Folstein , S. Bacalman , N.O. Davis , E. Dinh , J. Morgan , H. Tager-Flusberg , & J.E. Lainhart (2006). Comorbid psychiatric disorders in children with autism: Interview development and rates of disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36, 849861.

S.J. McKelvie (1976). The role of eyes and mouth in the memory of a face. American Journal of Psychology, 89, 311323.

N. Merin , G.S. Young , S. Ozonoff , & S.J. Rogers (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.

P. Mirenda , A. Donnellan , & D. Yoder (1983). Gaze behavior: A new look at an old problem. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 13, 397409.

P. Mundy , M. Sigman , J. Ungerer , & T. Sherman (1986). Defining the social deficits in autism: The contribution of nonverbal communication measures. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 27, 657669.

B.M. Nacewicz , K.M. Dalton , T. Johnstone , M. Long , E.M. McAuliff , T.R. Oakes , A.L. Alexander , & R.J. Davidson (2006). Amygdala volume and nonverbal social impairment in adolescent and adult males with autism. Archives of General Psychiatry, 63, 14171428.

J. Osterling & G. Dawson (1994). Early recognition of children with autism: A study of first birthday home videotapes. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 24, 247257.

K.A. Pelphrey , J.P. Morris , & G. McCarthy (2005). Neural basis of eye gaze processing deficits in autism. Brain, 128, 10381048.

K.A. Pelphrey , N.J. Sasson , J.S. Reznick , G. Paul , B.D. Goldman , & J. Piven (2002). Visual scanning of faces in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 32, 249261.

J. Piven (1999). Genetic liability for autism: The behavioural expression in relatives. International Review of Psychiatry, 11, 299308.

H. Rouse , N. Donnelly , J.A. Hadwin , & T. Brown (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.

N.J. Sasson (2006). The development of face processing in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36, 381394.

C.M. Schumann & D.G. Amaral (2006). Stereological analysis of amygdala neuron number in autism. The Journal of Neuroscience, 26, 76747679.

C.M. Schumann , J. Hamstra , B.L. Goodlin-Jones , L.J. Lotspeich , H. Kwon , M.H. Buonocore , C.R. Lammers , A.L. Reiss , & D.G. Amaral (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.

J. Sergent (1984). An investigation into component and configural processes underlying face perception. The British Journal of Psychology, 75, 221242.

B.F. Sparks , S.D. Friedman , D.W. Shaw , E.H. Aylward , D. Echelard , A.A. Artru , K.R. Maravilla , J.N. Giedd , J. Munson , G. Dawson , & S.R. Dager (2002). Brain structural abnormalities in young children with autism spectrum disorder. Neurology, 59, 184192.

M.L. Spezio , R. Adolphs , R.S. Hurley , & J. Piven (2006). Abnormal use of facial information in high-functioning autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 929939

N. Yirmiya & S. Ozonoff (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? *