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Neural processing of facial identity and expression in adults with and without autism: A multi-method approach

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

The ability to recognize faces and facial expressions is a common human talent. It has, however, been suggested to be impaired in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The goal of this study was to compare the processing of facial identity and emotion between individuals with ASD and neurotypicals (NTs). Behavioural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data from 46 young adults (aged 17-23 years, NASD = 22, NNT = 24) was analysed. During fMRI data acquisition, participants discriminated between short clips of a face transitioning from a neutral to an emotional expression. Stimuli included four identities and six emotions. We performed behavioural, univariate, multi-voxel, adaptation and functional connectivity analyses to investigate potential group differences. The ASD-group did not differ from the NT-group on behavioural identity and expression processing tasks. At the neural level, we found no differences in average neural activation, neural activation patterns and neural adaptation to faces in face-related brain regions. In terms of functional connectivity, we found that amygdala seems to be more strongly connected to inferior occipital cortex and V1 in individuals with ASD. Overall, the findings indicate that neural representations of facial identity and expression have a similar quality in individuals with and without ASD, but some regions containing these representations are connected differently in the extended face processing network.
Tijdschrift: NeuroImage: Clinical
ISSN: 2213-1582
Volume: 29
Jaar van publicatie:2021