PROCESSING CHIMERIC FACES IN ADOLESCENTS WITH ASPERGER SYNDROME

  • Galina V. Paramel
  • David L. Bimler
  • Tolga Aykut

Abstract

Persons with Asperger Syndrome (AS) are known to process facial expressions (FE) of emotion differently than typically developing (TD) individuals. Here the differences were examined using chimeric faces. Stimuli (N=91) were either Ekman-Friesen (1976) prototypes of seven basic emotions or composites with left and right halves from different basic emotions. Five AS adolescents and five age-matched TD persons labeled the primary emotion (out of seven) conveyed by each picture, plus an optional secondary component. Similarity measures derived from the naming data were processed by multidimensional scaling. Obtained structures were comparable for the AS and TD groups in the number and interpretation of dimensions. Both groups revealed the laterality bias whereby the emotion displayed in the left half-face dominates the labeling. Notably, laterality bias was stronger in the AS group. This precludes models of FE processing in which AS subjects attend more to the ‘configural’ aspect, as opposed to the ‘featural’ aspect of FEs.

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