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Verbal Bias in Recognition of Facial Emotions in Children with Asperger Syndrome

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 March 2000

James B. Grossman
Affiliation:
Yale University, Connecticut, U.S.A.
Ami Klin
Affiliation:
Yale Child Study Center, Connecticut, U.S.A.
Alice S. Carter
Affiliation:
University of Massachusetts, Boston, U.S.A.
Fred R. Volkmar
Affiliation:
Yale Child Study Center, Connecticut, U.S.A.
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Abstract

Thirteen children and adolescents with diagnoses of Asperger syndrome (AS) were matched with 13 nonautistic control children on chronological age and verbal IQ. They were tested on their ability to recognize simple facial emotions, as well as facial emotions paired with matching, mismatching, or irrelevant verbal labels. There were no differences between the groups at recognizing simple emotions but the Asperger group performed significantly worse than the control group at recognizing emotions when faces were paired with mismatching words (but not with matching or irrelevant words). The results suggest that there are qualitative differences from nonclinical populations in how children with AS process facial expressions. When presented with a more demanding affective processing task, individuals with AS showed a bias towards visual-verbal over visual-affective information (i.e., words over faces). Thus, children with AS may be utilizing compensatory strategies, such as verbal mediation, to process facial expressions of emotion.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2000 Association for Child Psychology and Psychiatry

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