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Title: Are impairments in facial expression of emotion processing related to a lack of attention to the eye area in children with autism spectrum disorders?
Author: Whitaker, Lydia
ISNI:       0000 0004 5358 9904
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2014
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The underlying explanation for impairments in facial expression recognition in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been debated for the last over 50 years. Socially driven accounts examine whether a lack of attention to or aversion to the eye area is a primary factor that relates to impaired expression processing in ASD (Baron-Cohen et al., 1997a; Baron-Cohen et al., 1997b; Corden et al., 2008; Dalton et al., 2005; Klin et al., 2002; Kylliainen & Hietanen, 2006). A diminished reliance on configural information has dominated the field as an explanation for impairments in face processing in ASD (Happe & Frith, 2006; Mottron et al., 2006). The body of research carried out in this thesis draws on socially and perceptually driven explanations to investigate whether children with ASD can extract emotional cues from the eyes as well as TD controls. The four studies of this thesis examined two main research questions. One question was whether individuals with ASD attend to the eye area and can extract emotional cues from this region. Another question was what the perceptual strategies underpinning face processing were in individuals with ASD. This was examined by disrupting the configural and featural information within the face with the addition of sunglasses and masks to faces. The first two studies from this thesis found that there was a difficulty using or extracting emotional cues from the eyes in children with ASD and have atypical perceptual processing patterns. The third study of this thesis highlighted that the eye area can be used under certain task demands, as well as TD controls, to recognise expressions of emotion. The final experiment of this thesis examined the sensory components of face processing in ASD.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available