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      Skin conductance response patterns of face processing in children with autism spectrum disorder

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          Abstract

          Purpose

          The purpose of this paper is to investigate the face processing responses of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) using skin conductance response (SCR) patterns and to compare it with typically developed (TD) children.

          Design/methodology/approach

          Two experiments have been designed to analyze the effect of face processing. In the first experiment, learned non-face (objects) vs unknown face stimuli have been shown and in the second experiment, familiar vs unfamiliar face stimuli have been shown to ten ASD and ten TD children and SCR patterns have been recorded, analyzed and compared for both the groups.

          Findings

          It has been observed that children with ASD were able to differentiate faces out of learned non-face stimuli and their SCR patterns were similar as TD children in the first experiment. In the second experiment, children with ASD were unable to recognize familiar faces from unfamiliar faces but TD children could easily discriminate between familiar and unfamiliar faces as their SCR patterns were different from children with ASD.

          Research limitations/implications

          The present study advocates that impairment in face identification exists in children with ASD. Hence, it can be concluded that in children with ASD face processing is present but they do not recognize familiar faces or it can be said that face familiarization effect is absent in children with ASD.

          Originality/value

          There are very few findings that used SCR signal as main analysis parameter for face processing in children with ASD, in most of the studies; Electroencephalography signal has been used as analysis parameter. Moreover, familiar and unfamiliar face processing with multiple stimuli used in present work adds novelty to the literature.

          Related collections

          Most cited references 26

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          The fusiform face area: a cortical region specialized for the perception of faces.

          Faces are among the most important visual stimuli we perceive, informing us not only about a person's identity, but also about their mood, sex, age and direction of gaze. The ability to extract this information within a fraction of a second of viewing a face is important for normal social interactions and has probably played a critical role in the survival of our primate ancestors. Considerable evidence from behavioural, neuropsychological and neurophysiological investigations supports the hypothesis that humans have specialized cognitive and neural mechanisms dedicated to the perception of faces (the face-specificity hypothesis). Here, we review the literature on a region of the human brain that appears to play a key role in face perception, known as the fusiform face area (FFA). Section 1 outlines the theoretical background for much of this work. The face-specificity hypothesis falls squarely on one side of a longstanding debate in the fields of cognitive science and cognitive neuroscience concerning the extent to which the mind/brain is composed of: (i) special-purpose ('domain-specific') mechanisms, each dedicated to processing a specific kind of information (e.g. faces, according to the face-specificity hypothesis), versus (ii) general-purpose ('domain-general') mechanisms, each capable of operating on any kind of information. Face perception has long served both as one of the prime candidates of a domain-specific process and as a key target for attack by proponents of domain-general theories of brain and mind. Section 2 briefly reviews the prior literature on face perception from behaviour and neurophysiology. This work supports the face-specificity hypothesis and argues against its domain-general alternatives (the individuation hypothesis, the expertise hypothesis and others). Section 3 outlines the more recent evidence on this debate from brain imaging, focusing particularly on the FFA. We review the evidence that the FFA is selectively engaged in face perception, by addressing (and rebutting) five of the most widely discussed alternatives to this hypothesis. In section 4, we consider recent findings that are beginning to provide clues into the computations conducted in the FFA and the nature of the representations the FFA extracts from faces. We argue that the FFA is engaged both in detecting faces and in extracting the necessary perceptual information to recognize them, and that the properties of the FFA mirror previously identified behavioural signatures of face-specific processing (e.g. the face-inversion effect). Section 5 asks how the computations and representations in the FFA differ from those occurring in other nearby regions of cortex that respond strongly to faces and objects. The evidence indicates clear functional dissociations between these regions, demonstrating that the FFA shows not only functional specificity but also area specificity. We end by speculating in section 6 on some of the broader questions raised by current research on the FFA, including the developmental origins of this region and the question of whether faces are unique versus whether similarly specialized mechanisms also exist for other domains of high-level perception and cognition.
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            Abnormal ventral temporal cortical activity during face discrimination among individuals with autism and Asperger syndrome.

            Recognition of individual faces is an integral part of both interpersonal interactions and successful functioning within a social group. Therefore, it is of considerable interest that individuals with autism and related conditions have selective deficits in face recognition (sparing nonface object recognition). We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study face and subordinate-level object perception in 14 high-functioning individuals with autism or Asperger syndrome (the autism group), in comparison with 2 groups of matched normal controls (normal control group ] [NC1] and normal control group 2 [NC2]) (n = 14 for each). Regions of interest (ROIs) were defined in NC1 and then applied in comparisons between NC2 and the autism group. Regions of interest were also defined in NC2 and then applied to comparisons between NC1 and the autism group as a replication study. In the first set of comparisons, we found significant task x group interactions for the size of activation in the right fusiform gyrus (FG) and right inferior temporal gyri (ITG). Post hoc analyses showed that during face (but not object) discrimination, the autism group had significantly greater activation than controls in the right ITG and less activation of the right FG. The replication study showed again that the autism group used the ITG significantly more for processing faces than the control groups, but for these analyses, the effect was now on the left side. Greater ITG activation was the pattern found in both control groups during object processing. Individuals with autism spectrum disorders demonstrate a pattern of brain activity during face discrimination that is consistent with feature-based strategies that are more typical of nonface object perception.
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              Newborns' preference for face-relevant stimuli: effects of contrast polarity.

              There is currently no agreement as to how specific or general are the mechanisms underlying newborns' face preferences. We address this issue by manipulating the contrast polarity of schematic and naturalistic face-related images and assessing the preferences of newborns. We find that for both schematic and naturalistic face images, the contrast polarity is important. Newborns did not show a preference for an upright face-related image unless it was composed of darker areas around the eyes and mouth. This result is consistent with either sensitivity to the shadowed areas of a face with overhead (natural) illumination and/or to the detection of eye contact.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                AIA
                10.1108/AIA
                Advances in Autism
                AIA
                Emerald Publishing
                2056-3868
                03 April 2017
                : 3
                : 2
                : 76-86
                Affiliations
                CT Group of Institutions, Jalandhar, India
                Dr BR Ambedkar National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar, India
                Hyderabad, India
                Author notes
                Anurag Sharma can be contacted at: er.anurags@gmail.com
                Article
                591768 AIA-09-2016-0025.pdf AIA-09-2016-0025
                10.1108/AIA-09-2016-0025
                © Emerald Publishing Limited
                Page count
                Figures: 9, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 29, Pages: 11, Words: 4561
                Product
                Categories
                research-article, Research paper
                cat-HSC, Health & social care
                cat-LID, Learning & intellectual disabilities
                Custom metadata
                yes
                yes
                JOURNAL
                included

                Health & Social care

                Skin conductance response, Autism, ASD, Face processing

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