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It's all in the eyes: subcortical and cortical activation during grotesqueness perception in autism

It's all in the eyes: subcortical and cortical activation during grotesqueness perception in autism
It's all in the eyes: subcortical and cortical activation during grotesqueness perception in autism
Atypical face processing plays a key role in social interaction difficulties encountered by individuals with autism. In the current fMRI study, the Thatcher illusion was used to investigate several aspects of face processing in 20 young adults with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and 20 matched neurotypical controls. “Thatcherized” stimuli were modified at either the eyes or the mouth and participants discriminated between pairs of faces while cued to attend to either of these features in upright and inverted orientation. Behavioral data confirmed sensitivity to the illusion and intact configural processing in ASD. Directing attention towards the eyes vs. the mouth in upright faces in ASD led to (1) improved discrimination accuracy; (2) increased activation in areas involved in social and emotional processing; (3) increased activation in subcortical face-processing areas. Our findings show that when explicitly cued to attend to the eyes, activation of cortical areas involved in face processing, including its social and emotional aspects, can be enhanced in autism. This suggests that impairments in face processing in autism may be caused by a deficit in social attention, and that giving specific cues to attend to the eye-region when performing behavioral therapies aimed at improving social skills may result in a better outcome.
1932-6203
1-14
Zurcher, Nicole R.
1db86fa0-9024-4504-8371-7f5efff4861b
Donnelly, Nick
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Ophelie, Rogier
d97e4116-de51-46bd-9ed4-be739cc3398e
Russo, Britt
e4526713-711a-47df-a2c1-f82ecc08894f
Hippolyte, Loyse
303abb47-b59c-46b4-ae86-2d8189fe05c2
Hadwin, Julie A.
a364caf0-405a-42f3-a04c-4864817393ee
Lemmonier, Erik
1b71df09-5bc1-46bc-af5c-bd88536a5a43
Hadjikhani, Nouchine
c63d64a2-3ebe-4414-b395-a5cfea14ce41
Zurcher, Nicole R.
1db86fa0-9024-4504-8371-7f5efff4861b
Donnelly, Nick
05c83b6b-ee8d-4c9d-85dc-c5dcd6b5427b
Ophelie, Rogier
d97e4116-de51-46bd-9ed4-be739cc3398e
Russo, Britt
e4526713-711a-47df-a2c1-f82ecc08894f
Hippolyte, Loyse
303abb47-b59c-46b4-ae86-2d8189fe05c2
Hadwin, Julie A.
a364caf0-405a-42f3-a04c-4864817393ee
Lemmonier, Erik
1b71df09-5bc1-46bc-af5c-bd88536a5a43
Hadjikhani, Nouchine
c63d64a2-3ebe-4414-b395-a5cfea14ce41

Zurcher, Nicole R., Donnelly, Nick, Ophelie, Rogier, Russo, Britt, Hippolyte, Loyse, Hadwin, Julie A., Lemmonier, Erik and Hadjikhani, Nouchine (2013) It's all in the eyes: subcortical and cortical activation during grotesqueness perception in autism. PLoS ONE, 8 (1), 1-14. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054313).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Atypical face processing plays a key role in social interaction difficulties encountered by individuals with autism. In the current fMRI study, the Thatcher illusion was used to investigate several aspects of face processing in 20 young adults with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and 20 matched neurotypical controls. “Thatcherized” stimuli were modified at either the eyes or the mouth and participants discriminated between pairs of faces while cued to attend to either of these features in upright and inverted orientation. Behavioral data confirmed sensitivity to the illusion and intact configural processing in ASD. Directing attention towards the eyes vs. the mouth in upright faces in ASD led to (1) improved discrimination accuracy; (2) increased activation in areas involved in social and emotional processing; (3) increased activation in subcortical face-processing areas. Our findings show that when explicitly cued to attend to the eyes, activation of cortical areas involved in face processing, including its social and emotional aspects, can be enhanced in autism. This suggests that impairments in face processing in autism may be caused by a deficit in social attention, and that giving specific cues to attend to the eye-region when performing behavioral therapies aimed at improving social skills may result in a better outcome.

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Zurcher&al, It’s All in the Eyes- Subcortical and Cortical Activation during Grotesqueness Perception in Autism - PLoSOne2013.pdf - Version of Record
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Published date: January 2013
Organisations: Clinical Neuroscience

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 347062
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/347062
ISSN: 1932-6203
PURE UUID: d2de61e8-4fa5-41a8-87df-7f9c0d1a643e

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Date deposited: 21 Jan 2013 13:09
Last modified: 06 Aug 2019 18:53

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