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Neural correlates of "social gaze" processing in high-functioning autism under systematic variation of gaze duration.

Georgescu AL, Kuzmanovic B, Schilbach L, Tepest R, Kulbida R, Bente G, Vogeley K - Neuroimage Clin (2013)

Bottom Line: Behavioral results revealed that HFA participants showed no significant difference in likeability ratings depending on gaze duration, while the control group rated the virtual characters as increasingly likeable with increasing gaze duration.On the neural level, direct gaze and increasing direct gaze duration recruit regions of the social neural network (SNN) in control participants, indicating the processing of social salience and a perceived communicative intent.In participants with HFA however, regions of the social neural network were more engaged by averted and decreasing amounts of gaze, while the neural response for processing direct gaze in HFA was not suggestive of any social information processing.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital of Cologne, Germany.

ABSTRACT
Direct gaze is a salient nonverbal signal for social interest and the intention to communicate. In particular, the duration of another's direct gaze can modulate our perception of the social meaning of gaze cues. However, both poor eye contact and deficits in social cognitive processing of gaze are specific diagnostic features of autism. Therefore, investigating neural mechanisms of gaze may provide key insights into the neural mechanisms related to autistic symptoms. Employing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and a parametric design, we investigated the neural correlates of the influence of gaze direction and gaze duration on person perception in individuals with high-functioning autism (HFA) and a matched control group. For this purpose, dynamically animated faces of virtual characters, displaying averted or direct gaze of different durations (1 s, 2.5 s and 4 s) were evaluated on a four-point likeability scale. Behavioral results revealed that HFA participants showed no significant difference in likeability ratings depending on gaze duration, while the control group rated the virtual characters as increasingly likeable with increasing gaze duration. On the neural level, direct gaze and increasing direct gaze duration recruit regions of the social neural network (SNN) in control participants, indicating the processing of social salience and a perceived communicative intent. In participants with HFA however, regions of the social neural network were more engaged by averted and decreasing amounts of gaze, while the neural response for processing direct gaze in HFA was not suggestive of any social information processing.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

A. Differential neural activity for observing direct compared to averted gaze in control participants. B. Differential neural activity for observing direct compared to averted gaze in HFA participants. C. Differential neural activity associated with the group × gaze interaction; plots illustrate corresponding contrast estimates obtained for the four stimulus categories for three different local maxima: right PCun (11, − 50, 60), left mOFC (− 2, 48, − 21) and left TPJ (− 44, − 65, 20). Error bars represent confidence intervals. D. Differential neural activity for observing averted compared to direct gaze in HFA participants. The principally activated voxels are overlaid on the mean structural anatomic image of the 26 participants: p < .001, cluster-level corrected; DG = direct gaze; AG = averted gaze; CON = control group; HFA = high-functioning autism group; PCun = precuneus; mOFC = medial orbitofrontal cortex; TPJ = temporoparietal junction.
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f0015: A. Differential neural activity for observing direct compared to averted gaze in control participants. B. Differential neural activity for observing direct compared to averted gaze in HFA participants. C. Differential neural activity associated with the group × gaze interaction; plots illustrate corresponding contrast estimates obtained for the four stimulus categories for three different local maxima: right PCun (11, − 50, 60), left mOFC (− 2, 48, − 21) and left TPJ (− 44, − 65, 20). Error bars represent confidence intervals. D. Differential neural activity for observing averted compared to direct gaze in HFA participants. The principally activated voxels are overlaid on the mean structural anatomic image of the 26 participants: p < .001, cluster-level corrected; DG = direct gaze; AG = averted gaze; CON = control group; HFA = high-functioning autism group; PCun = precuneus; mOFC = medial orbitofrontal cortex; TPJ = temporoparietal junction.

Mentions: First, we identified brain regions in each group of participants that responded more strongly to direct gaze compared to averted gaze (DG > AG) as shown in Fig. 3 and Table 2. In the control group, activity was localized bilaterally in the STG, the pSTS, and the MT/V5 area, as well as the left paracentral lobule. Furthermore, in the right hemisphere, the supramarginal gyrus/TPJ, the PCun and the insular cortex responded more strongly to direct than to averted gaze. In HFA individuals, the same contrast yielded activations solely in the right pSTS.


Neural correlates of "social gaze" processing in high-functioning autism under systematic variation of gaze duration.

Georgescu AL, Kuzmanovic B, Schilbach L, Tepest R, Kulbida R, Bente G, Vogeley K - Neuroimage Clin (2013)

A. Differential neural activity for observing direct compared to averted gaze in control participants. B. Differential neural activity for observing direct compared to averted gaze in HFA participants. C. Differential neural activity associated with the group × gaze interaction; plots illustrate corresponding contrast estimates obtained for the four stimulus categories for three different local maxima: right PCun (11, − 50, 60), left mOFC (− 2, 48, − 21) and left TPJ (− 44, − 65, 20). Error bars represent confidence intervals. D. Differential neural activity for observing averted compared to direct gaze in HFA participants. The principally activated voxels are overlaid on the mean structural anatomic image of the 26 participants: p < .001, cluster-level corrected; DG = direct gaze; AG = averted gaze; CON = control group; HFA = high-functioning autism group; PCun = precuneus; mOFC = medial orbitofrontal cortex; TPJ = temporoparietal junction.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3815020&req=5

f0015: A. Differential neural activity for observing direct compared to averted gaze in control participants. B. Differential neural activity for observing direct compared to averted gaze in HFA participants. C. Differential neural activity associated with the group × gaze interaction; plots illustrate corresponding contrast estimates obtained for the four stimulus categories for three different local maxima: right PCun (11, − 50, 60), left mOFC (− 2, 48, − 21) and left TPJ (− 44, − 65, 20). Error bars represent confidence intervals. D. Differential neural activity for observing averted compared to direct gaze in HFA participants. The principally activated voxels are overlaid on the mean structural anatomic image of the 26 participants: p < .001, cluster-level corrected; DG = direct gaze; AG = averted gaze; CON = control group; HFA = high-functioning autism group; PCun = precuneus; mOFC = medial orbitofrontal cortex; TPJ = temporoparietal junction.
Mentions: First, we identified brain regions in each group of participants that responded more strongly to direct gaze compared to averted gaze (DG > AG) as shown in Fig. 3 and Table 2. In the control group, activity was localized bilaterally in the STG, the pSTS, and the MT/V5 area, as well as the left paracentral lobule. Furthermore, in the right hemisphere, the supramarginal gyrus/TPJ, the PCun and the insular cortex responded more strongly to direct than to averted gaze. In HFA individuals, the same contrast yielded activations solely in the right pSTS.

Bottom Line: Behavioral results revealed that HFA participants showed no significant difference in likeability ratings depending on gaze duration, while the control group rated the virtual characters as increasingly likeable with increasing gaze duration.On the neural level, direct gaze and increasing direct gaze duration recruit regions of the social neural network (SNN) in control participants, indicating the processing of social salience and a perceived communicative intent.In participants with HFA however, regions of the social neural network were more engaged by averted and decreasing amounts of gaze, while the neural response for processing direct gaze in HFA was not suggestive of any social information processing.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital of Cologne, Germany.

ABSTRACT
Direct gaze is a salient nonverbal signal for social interest and the intention to communicate. In particular, the duration of another's direct gaze can modulate our perception of the social meaning of gaze cues. However, both poor eye contact and deficits in social cognitive processing of gaze are specific diagnostic features of autism. Therefore, investigating neural mechanisms of gaze may provide key insights into the neural mechanisms related to autistic symptoms. Employing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and a parametric design, we investigated the neural correlates of the influence of gaze direction and gaze duration on person perception in individuals with high-functioning autism (HFA) and a matched control group. For this purpose, dynamically animated faces of virtual characters, displaying averted or direct gaze of different durations (1 s, 2.5 s and 4 s) were evaluated on a four-point likeability scale. Behavioral results revealed that HFA participants showed no significant difference in likeability ratings depending on gaze duration, while the control group rated the virtual characters as increasingly likeable with increasing gaze duration. On the neural level, direct gaze and increasing direct gaze duration recruit regions of the social neural network (SNN) in control participants, indicating the processing of social salience and a perceived communicative intent. In participants with HFA however, regions of the social neural network were more engaged by averted and decreasing amounts of gaze, while the neural response for processing direct gaze in HFA was not suggestive of any social information processing.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus