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An ERP Study of Autistic Traits and Emotional Recognition in Non-Clinical Adolescence

Author(s): Ken’ichi Nixima | Maiko Fujimori | Kazuo Okanoya

Journal: Psychology
ISSN 2152-7180

Volume: 04;
Issue: 06;
Start page: 515;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: Autistic Traits | AQ | Emotions | Facial Expression | Event-Related Potentials

Autistic-like traits are characterized by impaired emotional recognition and proposed to be continuously distributed in the entire population. In the non-clinical population, however, the relationship between the autistic-like traits and the behavioral/physiological patterns of emotion processing ability has not been examined. In this study, we investigated the autistic traits (even including moderate-AQ participants) of typically developing adolescents, measured with the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ), and the spectral property of their behavioral and physiological responses during emotion-discrimination tasks. Participants were screened and divided into three groups (high-, moderate-, and low-AQ groups) according to AQ scores. Each group participated in the subsequent emotion-discrimination (using angry, happy and neutral facial expressions) experiment involving event-related potentials (ERPs). The results indicated that high-AQ group displayed significant different patterns (lower late positive potentials) of the emotional processing involved in behavioral and physiological tasks compared with the moderate-AQ group. In contrast, their behavioral and physiological patterns were comparable to those shown in the low-AQ group. Thus, in the non-clinical adolescents, the spectrum of emotion recognition patterns might show a non-linear relationship with AQ scores, even suggesting that AQ could not be considered as a simple index for emotional processing.
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