Facial expression coding in children and adolescents with autism: Reduced adaptability but intact norm-based coding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can have difficulty recognizing emotional expressions. Here, we asked whether the underlying perceptual coding of expression is disrupted. Typical individuals code expression relative to a perceptual (average) norm that is continuously updated by experience. This adaptability of face-coding mechanisms has been linked to performance on various face tasks. We used an adaptation aftereffect paradigm to characterize expression coding in children and adolescents with autism. We asked whether face expression coding is less adaptable in autism and whether there is any fundamental disruption of norm-based coding. If expression coding is norm-based, then the face aftereffects should increase with adaptor expression strength (distance from the average expression). We observed this pattern in both autistic and typically developing participants, suggesting that norm-based coding is fundamentally intact in autism. Critically, however, expression aftereffects were reduced in the autism group, indicating that expression-coding mechanisms are less readily tuned by experience. Reduced adaptability has also been reported for coding of face identity and gaze direction. Thus, there appears to be a pervasive lack of adaptability in face-coding mechanisms in autism, which could contribute to face processing and broader social difficulties in the disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-218
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Volume109
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2018

Fingerprint

Facial Expression
Autistic Disorder
Adaptability
Autism

Cite this

@article{2741c3219bc043ea9b60f32f5fb0fc07,
title = "Facial expression coding in children and adolescents with autism: Reduced adaptability but intact norm-based coding",
abstract = "Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can have difficulty recognizing emotional expressions. Here, we asked whether the underlying perceptual coding of expression is disrupted. Typical individuals code expression relative to a perceptual (average) norm that is continuously updated by experience. This adaptability of face-coding mechanisms has been linked to performance on various face tasks. We used an adaptation aftereffect paradigm to characterize expression coding in children and adolescents with autism. We asked whether face expression coding is less adaptable in autism and whether there is any fundamental disruption of norm-based coding. If expression coding is norm-based, then the face aftereffects should increase with adaptor expression strength (distance from the average expression). We observed this pattern in both autistic and typically developing participants, suggesting that norm-based coding is fundamentally intact in autism. Critically, however, expression aftereffects were reduced in the autism group, indicating that expression-coding mechanisms are less readily tuned by experience. Reduced adaptability has also been reported for coding of face identity and gaze direction. Thus, there appears to be a pervasive lack of adaptability in face-coding mechanisms in autism, which could contribute to face processing and broader social difficulties in the disorder.",
keywords = "Autism, Expression perception, Face processing, Norm-based coding",
author = "Gillian Rhodes and Nichola Burton and Linda Jeffery and Ainsley Read and Libby Taylor and Louise Ewing",
year = "2018",
month = "5",
doi = "10.1111/bjop.12257",
language = "English",
volume = "109",
pages = "204--218",
journal = "British Journal of Psychology",
issn = "0007-1269",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "2",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Facial expression coding in children and adolescents with autism

T2 - Reduced adaptability but intact norm-based coding

AU - Rhodes, Gillian

AU - Burton, Nichola

AU - Jeffery, Linda

AU - Read, Ainsley

AU - Taylor, Libby

AU - Ewing, Louise

PY - 2018/5

Y1 - 2018/5

N2 - Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can have difficulty recognizing emotional expressions. Here, we asked whether the underlying perceptual coding of expression is disrupted. Typical individuals code expression relative to a perceptual (average) norm that is continuously updated by experience. This adaptability of face-coding mechanisms has been linked to performance on various face tasks. We used an adaptation aftereffect paradigm to characterize expression coding in children and adolescents with autism. We asked whether face expression coding is less adaptable in autism and whether there is any fundamental disruption of norm-based coding. If expression coding is norm-based, then the face aftereffects should increase with adaptor expression strength (distance from the average expression). We observed this pattern in both autistic and typically developing participants, suggesting that norm-based coding is fundamentally intact in autism. Critically, however, expression aftereffects were reduced in the autism group, indicating that expression-coding mechanisms are less readily tuned by experience. Reduced adaptability has also been reported for coding of face identity and gaze direction. Thus, there appears to be a pervasive lack of adaptability in face-coding mechanisms in autism, which could contribute to face processing and broader social difficulties in the disorder.

AB - Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can have difficulty recognizing emotional expressions. Here, we asked whether the underlying perceptual coding of expression is disrupted. Typical individuals code expression relative to a perceptual (average) norm that is continuously updated by experience. This adaptability of face-coding mechanisms has been linked to performance on various face tasks. We used an adaptation aftereffect paradigm to characterize expression coding in children and adolescents with autism. We asked whether face expression coding is less adaptable in autism and whether there is any fundamental disruption of norm-based coding. If expression coding is norm-based, then the face aftereffects should increase with adaptor expression strength (distance from the average expression). We observed this pattern in both autistic and typically developing participants, suggesting that norm-based coding is fundamentally intact in autism. Critically, however, expression aftereffects were reduced in the autism group, indicating that expression-coding mechanisms are less readily tuned by experience. Reduced adaptability has also been reported for coding of face identity and gaze direction. Thus, there appears to be a pervasive lack of adaptability in face-coding mechanisms in autism, which could contribute to face processing and broader social difficulties in the disorder.

KW - Autism

KW - Expression perception

KW - Face processing

KW - Norm-based coding

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85025112485&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/bjop.12257

DO - 10.1111/bjop.12257

M3 - Article

VL - 109

SP - 204

EP - 218

JO - British Journal of Psychology

JF - British Journal of Psychology

SN - 0007-1269

IS - 2

ER -