[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although alterations of emotion processing are recognized as a core component of autism, the level at which alterations occur is still debated. Discrepant results suggest that overt assessment of emotion processing is not appropriate. In this study, skin conductance response (SCR) was used to examine covert emotional processes. Both behavioural responses and SCRs of 16 adults with an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) were compared to those of 16 typical matched adults. Participants had to judge emotional facial expressions, the age of faces or the direction of a moving object. Although behavioural performance was similar in the two populations, individuals with an ASD exhibited lower SCRs than controls in the emotional judgement task. This suggests that such individuals may rely on different strategies due to altered autonomic processing. Furthermore, failure to produce normal physiological reactions to emotional faces may be related to social impairments in individuals with an ASD.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent empirical findings suggest a significant influence of emotion on memory processes. Surprisingly, although emotion-processing difficulties appear to be a hallmark feature in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), their impact on higher-level cognitive functions, such as memory, has not been directly studied in this population. The aim of this study was to address this issue by assessing whether the emotional valence of visual scenes affects recall skills in high-functioning individuals with ASD. To this purpose, their recall performance of neutral and emotional pictures was compared with that of typically developing adults (control group). Results revealed that while typically developing individuals showed enhanced recall skills for negative relative to positive and neutral pictures, individuals with ASD recalled the neutral pictures as well as the emotional ones. Findings of this study thus point to reduced influence of emotion on memory processes in ASD than in typically developing individuals, possibly owing to amygdala dysfunctions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study aimed to explore the perception of different components of biological movement in individuals with autism and Asperger syndrome. The ability to recognize a person's actions, subjective states, emotions, and objects conveyed by moving point-light displays was assessed in 19 participants with autism and 19 comparable typical control participants. Results showed that the participants with autism were as able as controls to name point-light displays of non-human objects and human actions. In contrast, they were significantly poorer at labeling emotional displays, suggesting that they are specifically impaired in attending to emotional states. Most studies have highlighted an emotional deficit in facial expression perception; our results extend this hypothesized deficit to the perception and interpretation of whole-body biological movements.
Full-text · Article · Sep 2007 · Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders