Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Autistic Children Can Interpret Mental States When Facial Expressions Are Animated

Date:
March 27, 2007
Source:
Society for Research in Child Development
Summary:
Findings from a new study reveal that autistic children can interpret information around a person's eyes in order to interpret the person's mental state. It was previously thought that autistic children's difficulty interpreting mental states of others was largely due to difficulty interpreting expressions around the eyes. Digital imaging methods were used to isolate regions of the face, which provided a more accurate measurement of these abilities of autistic children than in previous studies.

Autistic children have long been thought to have difficulty interpreting people's mental states based on facial expressions, especially expressions around the eyes. Some researchers believe that this lack of ability could be central to the social problems experienced by these children. Now a new study finds that autistic children are able to interpret mental states when looking at animated facial expressions.

Related Articles


The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Nottingham, is published in the March-April 2007 issue of the journal Child Development.

Researchers edited images so that different parts of the face (eyes and mouth) remained static and neutral. This technique, known as "freezing," created seamless facial images that allowed the researchers to explore the importance of certain regions of the face in identifying mental states.

In one experiment, 18 autistic children ages 10 to 14 were able to attribute a range of mental states to dynamic and static facial expressions, but they did not perform as well as non-autistic children. The autistic children were better at recognizing mental states when the eyes and mouth conveyed information than when these facial features were static and neutral.

In a second experiment, 18 autistic children ages 11 to 15 were as successful as non-autistic children in interpreting mental states, whether they saw the eyes in isolation or in the context of the whole face. This indicates that autistic children do, in fact, make use of information from the eyes, a finding that contradicts prior studies.

"Previous findings show that children and adolescents with autism may have difficulty reading mental states from facial expressions but our results suggest that this is not due to an inability to interpret information from the eyes," said Elisa Back, formerly of the University of Nottingham and now a Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham and the study's lead author. "Surprisingly, autistic children seemed particularly reliant on the eyes and also the mouth when making mentalistic inferences.

"The conclusions of previous research are largely based on methods that present static photographs to participants," Back continued. "Our study indicates that a more accurate measure of the abilities of those with autism can be obtained through the use of sophisticated digital imaging techniques with animated facial expressions."

Reference: Child Development, Vol. 78, Issue 2, Do the Eyes Have It? Inferring Mental States from Animated Faces in Autism by Back, E, Ropar, D, and Mitchell, P (University of Nottingham).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Research in Child Development. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society for Research in Child Development. "Autistic Children Can Interpret Mental States When Facial Expressions Are Animated." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 March 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070326095410.htm>.
Society for Research in Child Development. (2007, March 27). Autistic Children Can Interpret Mental States When Facial Expressions Are Animated. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 30, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070326095410.htm
Society for Research in Child Development. "Autistic Children Can Interpret Mental States When Facial Expressions Are Animated." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070326095410.htm (accessed March 30, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, March 30, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AP (Mar. 25, 2015) While distracted driving is not a new problem for teens, new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says it&apos;s much more serious than previously thought. (March 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) European researchers say our smartphone use offers scientists an ideal testing ground for human brain plasticity. Dr Ako Ghosh&apos;s team discovered that the brains and thumbs of smartphone users interact differently from those who use old-fashioned handsets. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Newsy (Mar. 24, 2015) According to a new study by the Alzheimer&apos;s Association, more than half of those who have the degenerative brain disease aren&apos;t told by their doctors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

Newsy (Mar. 23, 2015) Researchers found those who napped for 45 minutes to an hour before being tested on information recalled it five times better than those who didn&apos;t. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins