ABSTRACT: The present study investigated emotional face processing in neurotypicals selected for autistic traits (AT). Participants (N=81), who obtained scores one standard deviation above or below average on the Autism Spectrum Quotient, were tested using observational fear conditioning (FC), a face version of the attention probe task, and "Reading the Mind in the Eyes" test. The results indicated that high AT participants displayed enhanced observational FC, no attentional bias to fearful faces, and increased latency (but normal accuracy) to recognizing the mental state of another. To a certain extent, this pattern resembles the social-emotional phenotype that was previously described in autism spectrum disorders. Therefore, these results may contribute to the broad autism phenotype perspective.
Psychiatry Research 03/2012; · 2.52 Impact Factor