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Atypical emotional anticipation in high-functioning autism.

Palumbo L, Burnett HG, Jellema T - Mol Autism (2015)

Bottom Line: Specific experimental manipulations prior to the final facial expression of the video clip allowed examining contributions of bottom-up mechanisms (sequential contrast/context effects and representational momentum) and a top-down mechanism (emotional anticipation) to distortions in the perception of the final expression.We argue that in TD individuals the perceptual judgments of other's facial expressions were underpinned by an automatic emotional anticipation mechanism.In contrast, HFA individuals were primarily influenced by visual features, most notably the contrast between the start and end expressions, or pattern extrapolation.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Eleanor Rathbone Building, Bedford Street South, L69 7ZA Liverpool, UK.

ABSTRACT

Background: Understanding and anticipating others' mental or emotional states relies on the processing of social cues, such as dynamic facial expressions. Individuals with high-functioning autism (HFA) may process these cues differently from individuals with typical development (TD) and purportedly use a 'mechanistic' rather than a 'mentalistic' approach, involving rule- and contingency-based interpretations of the stimuli. The study primarily aimed at examining whether the judgments of facial expressions made by individuals with TD and HFA would be similarly affected by the immediately preceding dynamic perceptual history of that face. A second aim was to explore possible differences in the mechanisms underpinning the perceptual judgments in the two groups.

Methods: Twenty-two adults with HFA and with TD, matched for age, gender and IQ, were tested in three experiments in which dynamic, 'ecologically valid' offsets of happy and angry facial expressions were presented. Participants evaluated the expression depicted in the last frame of the video clip by using a 5-point scale ranging from slightly angry via neutral to slightly happy. Specific experimental manipulations prior to the final facial expression of the video clip allowed examining contributions of bottom-up mechanisms (sequential contrast/context effects and representational momentum) and a top-down mechanism (emotional anticipation) to distortions in the perception of the final expression.

Results: In experiment 1, the two groups showed a very similar perceptual bias for the final expression of joy-to-neutral and anger-to-neutral videos (overshoot bias). In experiment 2, a change in the actor's identity during the clip removed the bias in the TD group, but not in the HFA group. In experiment 3, neutral-to-joy/anger-to-neutral sequences generated an undershoot bias (opposite to the overshoot) in the TD group, whereas no bias was observed in the HFA group.

Conclusions: We argue that in TD individuals the perceptual judgments of other's facial expressions were underpinned by an automatic emotional anticipation mechanism. In contrast, HFA individuals were primarily influenced by visual features, most notably the contrast between the start and end expressions, or pattern extrapolation. We critically discuss the proposition that automatic emotional anticipation may be induced by motor simulation of the perceived dynamic facial expressions and discuss its implications for autism.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Illustration of the stimulus presentations in experiment 1. Joy-to-‘neutral’ videos started with a facial expression of intense joy, which gradually morphed into a 10 % joy, a neutral or a 10 % anger expression (top panel). Anger-to-‘neutral’ videos started with a facial expression of intense anger, which gradually morphed into a 10 % anger, a neutral or a 10 % joy expression (bottom panel)
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Fig1: Illustration of the stimulus presentations in experiment 1. Joy-to-‘neutral’ videos started with a facial expression of intense joy, which gradually morphed into a 10 % joy, a neutral or a 10 % anger expression (top panel). Anger-to-‘neutral’ videos started with a facial expression of intense anger, which gradually morphed into a 10 % anger, a neutral or a 10 % joy expression (bottom panel)

Mentions: Nine interpolated images, in between the full-blown expression of joy or anger (which is called 100 %) and the neutral expression (0 %), were created at equal steps of 10 % intensity change, using computer morphing procedures [47]. The resulting video clips depicted a maximally happy or angry expression of which the intensity gradually decreased until a neutral, a 10 % joy or a 10 % anger expression was reached. The first and the last frames each lasted 300 ms. The nine interpolated frames each lasted 30 ms (9 × 30 = 270 ms). The clips were 30 ms longer or shorter in case of 10 % intensity endpoints (Fig. 1).Fig. 1


Atypical emotional anticipation in high-functioning autism.

Palumbo L, Burnett HG, Jellema T - Mol Autism (2015)

Illustration of the stimulus presentations in experiment 1. Joy-to-‘neutral’ videos started with a facial expression of intense joy, which gradually morphed into a 10 % joy, a neutral or a 10 % anger expression (top panel). Anger-to-‘neutral’ videos started with a facial expression of intense anger, which gradually morphed into a 10 % anger, a neutral or a 10 % joy expression (bottom panel)
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4537555&req=5

Fig1: Illustration of the stimulus presentations in experiment 1. Joy-to-‘neutral’ videos started with a facial expression of intense joy, which gradually morphed into a 10 % joy, a neutral or a 10 % anger expression (top panel). Anger-to-‘neutral’ videos started with a facial expression of intense anger, which gradually morphed into a 10 % anger, a neutral or a 10 % joy expression (bottom panel)
Mentions: Nine interpolated images, in between the full-blown expression of joy or anger (which is called 100 %) and the neutral expression (0 %), were created at equal steps of 10 % intensity change, using computer morphing procedures [47]. The resulting video clips depicted a maximally happy or angry expression of which the intensity gradually decreased until a neutral, a 10 % joy or a 10 % anger expression was reached. The first and the last frames each lasted 300 ms. The nine interpolated frames each lasted 30 ms (9 × 30 = 270 ms). The clips were 30 ms longer or shorter in case of 10 % intensity endpoints (Fig. 1).Fig. 1

Bottom Line: Specific experimental manipulations prior to the final facial expression of the video clip allowed examining contributions of bottom-up mechanisms (sequential contrast/context effects and representational momentum) and a top-down mechanism (emotional anticipation) to distortions in the perception of the final expression.We argue that in TD individuals the perceptual judgments of other's facial expressions were underpinned by an automatic emotional anticipation mechanism.In contrast, HFA individuals were primarily influenced by visual features, most notably the contrast between the start and end expressions, or pattern extrapolation.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Eleanor Rathbone Building, Bedford Street South, L69 7ZA Liverpool, UK.

ABSTRACT

Background: Understanding and anticipating others' mental or emotional states relies on the processing of social cues, such as dynamic facial expressions. Individuals with high-functioning autism (HFA) may process these cues differently from individuals with typical development (TD) and purportedly use a 'mechanistic' rather than a 'mentalistic' approach, involving rule- and contingency-based interpretations of the stimuli. The study primarily aimed at examining whether the judgments of facial expressions made by individuals with TD and HFA would be similarly affected by the immediately preceding dynamic perceptual history of that face. A second aim was to explore possible differences in the mechanisms underpinning the perceptual judgments in the two groups.

Methods: Twenty-two adults with HFA and with TD, matched for age, gender and IQ, were tested in three experiments in which dynamic, 'ecologically valid' offsets of happy and angry facial expressions were presented. Participants evaluated the expression depicted in the last frame of the video clip by using a 5-point scale ranging from slightly angry via neutral to slightly happy. Specific experimental manipulations prior to the final facial expression of the video clip allowed examining contributions of bottom-up mechanisms (sequential contrast/context effects and representational momentum) and a top-down mechanism (emotional anticipation) to distortions in the perception of the final expression.

Results: In experiment 1, the two groups showed a very similar perceptual bias for the final expression of joy-to-neutral and anger-to-neutral videos (overshoot bias). In experiment 2, a change in the actor's identity during the clip removed the bias in the TD group, but not in the HFA group. In experiment 3, neutral-to-joy/anger-to-neutral sequences generated an undershoot bias (opposite to the overshoot) in the TD group, whereas no bias was observed in the HFA group.

Conclusions: We argue that in TD individuals the perceptual judgments of other's facial expressions were underpinned by an automatic emotional anticipation mechanism. In contrast, HFA individuals were primarily influenced by visual features, most notably the contrast between the start and end expressions, or pattern extrapolation. We critically discuss the proposition that automatic emotional anticipation may be induced by motor simulation of the perceived dynamic facial expressions and discuss its implications for autism.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus