The Effect of Context in Facial Emotion Recognition in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism spectrum disorders(ASD) are characterized by deficits in social interaction and communication, as well as restricted behaviors and interests. A body of literature shows that ASDs have impairments in recognition of facial emotion which may contribute to social impairment. Most studies use faces presented alone without any context as stimuli, suggesting a strong and automatic influence of context on face recognition. Consequently, prior studies for ASDs may be limited in the sense that they lack potentially important contextual cues and may not fully capture the difficulties experienced in everyday life. This study investigated quantitative change in emotional intensity ratings with the addition of contextual information in children with ASD. Participants in the current study were 20 children with ASD and 20 typically developing individuals(TD). All participants were asked to assess the emotional intensity of a single emotion(happy/anger) from images presented under two conditions(context-free and context embedded). The results showed there is no significant difference in the addition of contextual cues. To suggests that ASDs have impairment in using contextual cues to moderate their assessment of emotional intensity.