Coming face to face with autism
1 April 2009
Sarah said: “Previous research has suggested that people with autism have difficulty inferring emotion from faces due to lack of attention to the eyes and increased attention to the mouth. However not all studies have shown differences in emotion recognition and eye gaze. There is also little research asking what role reading emotion from the eyes plays in social communication difficulties in autism, with a few studies suggesting a relationship with social competence and responsiveness.”
Sarah is looking for volunteers aged 18 and over who have a diagnoses of autism, autism spectrum disorder or Aspergers syndrome. She also wants to hear from typically developing people, also over the age of 18, who are interested in helping with her research.
Participants will view 21 video clips of facial expressions and will be asked whether the person in the video received chocolate, monopoly money or a home made gift. Each volunteer will have their eye movements measured and will be asked to provide an emotion label for the facial expression. The test will also include logic and vocabulary tasks and an interview and short questionnaire to provide a measure of how challenging each volunteer finds socialising and communicating with others.
Sarah’s supervisor, Professor Peter Mitchell from the School of Psychology, said: “The procedures developed by Sarah allow us to investigate how people with autism process social information under conditions that are close to real life. Previous research has been somewhat contrived and unlike real life. High functioning people with autism tend to perform well on those artificial tasks and therefore this is not particularly informative about the social difficulties suffered by people with autism. Sarah’s study has features that are much closer to challenges faced by people with autism in real life and therefore has potential to tell us precisely what aspects of social functioning are difficult for them.”
The test, which will take place at the School of Psychology on University Park, will take approximately two hours and can be conducted in two sessions. Volunteers will be reimbursed for their time and travel expenses up to £5. Sarah can be contacted on 0115 846 7362 or email lwxsc4 [a] nottingham.ac (p) uk.
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