Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Interactive game helps autistic children recognize emotions, study suggests

Date:
March 5, 2011
Source:
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Summary:
Children with autism spectrum disorders are better able to recognize faces, facial expressions and emotions with the help of an interactive computer program called FaceSay, according to newly published research.

Image taken from the FaceSay sample video.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Alabama at Birmingham

Children with autism spectrum disorders are better able to recognize faces, facial expressions and emotions with the help of an interactive computer program called FaceSay, according to newly published research from psychologists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

ASD includes a range of developmental disorders such as autism, Asperger's Syndrome and other pervasive developmental disorders. Children with ASD often avoid eye contact with others, which prevents them from perceiving and understanding the emotions of others and hinders their ability to remember faces.

"The software features interactive games that let children with ASD practice recognizing the facial expressions of an avatar," says Maria Hopkins, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences. "The exercises encourage users to focus on the upper half of a person's face where crucial nonverbal information and emotions are expressed through the eyes."

Hopkins and research partner Fred Biasini, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology, tested 25 children with autism and 24 children with Asperger's Syndrome. The children, 44 boys and five girls ages 6-15, participated in an average 20-minute computer-training session with three FaceSay interactive games twice weekly for at least six weeks. Their results were published in the February 2011 issue of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

"Our results show that the exercises within this software can have a positive impact," Biasini says.

Nancy Meisler's son Mitchell participated in the study three years ago, when he was 13. "Mitchell cannot only tell when I am happy or angry, but he is better able to recognize more complex emotions, like when I am concerned or confused," Meisler says.

The UAB team found that the children with Asperger's Syndrome who used the software made significant improvements in their ability to read facial expressions; children with autism improved but less so.

The team also examined whether or not the children using the software understood the concepts behind certain facial expressions; children in both the autism and Asperger groups significantly improved their ability to recognize emotions.

"The children who worked with the software showed improvements in their playground interactions with other kids," Hopkins says. "They used more eye contact and did a better job of following playmates' eye gaze."

Meisler and the other study participants completed the training sessions using computer workstations at Mitchell's Place, a Birmingham-area center that specializes in services for children with ASD.

This is the first of three studies conducted by Hopkins and Biasini investigating the impacts of the FaceSay program, which was created by Symbionica, LLC.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alabama at Birmingham. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ingrid Maria Hopkins, Michael W. Gower, Trista A. Perez, Dana S. Smith, Franklin R. Amthor, F. Casey Wimsatt, Fred J. Biasini. Avatar Assistant: Improving Social Skills in Students with an ASD Through a Computer-Based Intervention. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2011; DOI: 10.1007/s10803-011-1179-z

Cite This Page:

University of Alabama at Birmingham. "Interactive game helps autistic children recognize emotions, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110305110843.htm>.
University of Alabama at Birmingham. (2011, March 5). Interactive game helps autistic children recognize emotions, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110305110843.htm
University of Alabama at Birmingham. "Interactive game helps autistic children recognize emotions, study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110305110843.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The brains of artists aren't really left-brain or right-brain, but rather have extra neural matter in visual and motor control areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. 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:
from the past week

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