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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

The effect of gender switch in experiment 2. Scores for the neutral expressions at the end of the joy-to-neutral and anger-to-neutral sequences are shown in the identity-change condition with the same gender change and different gender change in HFA individuals
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Fig6: The effect of gender switch in experiment 2. Scores for the neutral expressions at the end of the joy-to-neutral and anger-to-neutral sequences are shown in the identity-change condition with the same gender change and different gender change in HFA individuals

Mentions: In principle, the overshoot bias found in the identity-change condition in HFA individuals might have resulted from impaired identity recognition skills [49]. Even though from debriefing HFA participants it emerged that they all had spotted the identity change, we could not be sure that this was the case in each and every trial. If the HFA participants had not detected the identity change in some of the trials, then they would have treated these trials as if they were same-identity trials. We reasoned that if this was the case, then more overshoot was expected in trials where the two identities had the same gender, compared to trials with a gender shift. In terms of physical features, a male and a female face would look more dissimilar than two male or two female faces. Therefore, in a subsequent analysis of the HFA data, the same gender and different gender conditions were separated. In both the same gender and different gender conditions, the mean scores in the joy-to-neutral and anger-to-neutral videos differed significantly from each other (both ps < .005; paired samples t tests, see Fig. 6). The mean difference scores [i.e. the mean score in anger-to-neutral videos minus the mean score in joy-to-neutral videos] in the trials with and without a gender switch did not differ (t(16) = 1.23, p = .237). This suggests that poorer identity recognition skills did not play a role in bringing about the overshoot bias in the identity-change condition in the HFA group.Fig. 6


Atypical emotional anticipation in high-functioning autism.

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

The effect of gender switch in experiment 2. Scores for the neutral expressions at the end of the joy-to-neutral and anger-to-neutral sequences are shown in the identity-change condition with the same gender change and different gender change in HFA individuals
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

Fig6: The effect of gender switch in experiment 2. Scores for the neutral expressions at the end of the joy-to-neutral and anger-to-neutral sequences are shown in the identity-change condition with the same gender change and different gender change in HFA individuals
Mentions: In principle, the overshoot bias found in the identity-change condition in HFA individuals might have resulted from impaired identity recognition skills [49]. Even though from debriefing HFA participants it emerged that they all had spotted the identity change, we could not be sure that this was the case in each and every trial. If the HFA participants had not detected the identity change in some of the trials, then they would have treated these trials as if they were same-identity trials. We reasoned that if this was the case, then more overshoot was expected in trials where the two identities had the same gender, compared to trials with a gender shift. In terms of physical features, a male and a female face would look more dissimilar than two male or two female faces. Therefore, in a subsequent analysis of the HFA data, the same gender and different gender conditions were separated. In both the same gender and different gender conditions, the mean scores in the joy-to-neutral and anger-to-neutral videos differed significantly from each other (both ps < .005; paired samples t tests, see Fig. 6). The mean difference scores [i.e. the mean score in anger-to-neutral videos minus the mean score in joy-to-neutral videos] in the trials with and without a gender switch did not differ (t(16) = 1.23, p = .237). This suggests that poorer identity recognition skills did not play a role in bringing about the overshoot bias in the identity-change condition in the HFA group.Fig. 6

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