University of Louisville

Poster Title

Electrocortical Study of Emotional Prosody Recognition Deficits in Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Institution

University of Louisville

Abstract

Disturbances of affective reactivity and inability to perceive and respond to the social signals in a typical and appropriate manner are the hallmark deficits of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Children with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are characterized not only by deficits in attentional functions, but also by emotional reactivity abnormalities. We propose that both ASD and ADHD are characterized by emotion recognition difficulties, so called ‘theory-ofmind’ deficits. This term has been applied to the capacity to attribute mental states to others in order to understand and predict their behavior. It is possible that the inability of mentalizing about emotional prosody may explain the social and communication impairments in ASD and ADHD. Prior studies identified a cortical network that is active during mentalizing and links prefrontal regions with posterior temporal cortex. The abnormality that results in mentalizing failure in ASD and ADHD may involve weak connections between components of this system. Our study was designed as an event-related potential (ERP) investigation of behavioral and electrocortical responses during a task requiring recognition of emotional faces. Facial expressions represent an important means of non-verbal social communication. The results of our preliminary study suggest that impaired categorical perception of facial expressions and difficulties in understanding emotional prosody in facial expressions can found not only in children with autism but also in children with ADHD. Both autistic (N=8) and ADHD (N=8) subjects showed deficits in correct categorization of emotional expressions on faces presented during the tests and demonstrated significant differences as compared to 8 age-matched neurotypical controls. Emotional reactivity deficits, both in ASD and ADHD, may negatively affect social functioning and more research is needed to understand neural mechanisms of observed deficits.

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Electrocortical Study of Emotional Prosody Recognition Deficits in Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Disturbances of affective reactivity and inability to perceive and respond to the social signals in a typical and appropriate manner are the hallmark deficits of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Children with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are characterized not only by deficits in attentional functions, but also by emotional reactivity abnormalities. We propose that both ASD and ADHD are characterized by emotion recognition difficulties, so called ‘theory-ofmind’ deficits. This term has been applied to the capacity to attribute mental states to others in order to understand and predict their behavior. It is possible that the inability of mentalizing about emotional prosody may explain the social and communication impairments in ASD and ADHD. Prior studies identified a cortical network that is active during mentalizing and links prefrontal regions with posterior temporal cortex. The abnormality that results in mentalizing failure in ASD and ADHD may involve weak connections between components of this system. Our study was designed as an event-related potential (ERP) investigation of behavioral and electrocortical responses during a task requiring recognition of emotional faces. Facial expressions represent an important means of non-verbal social communication. The results of our preliminary study suggest that impaired categorical perception of facial expressions and difficulties in understanding emotional prosody in facial expressions can found not only in children with autism but also in children with ADHD. Both autistic (N=8) and ADHD (N=8) subjects showed deficits in correct categorization of emotional expressions on faces presented during the tests and demonstrated significant differences as compared to 8 age-matched neurotypical controls. Emotional reactivity deficits, both in ASD and ADHD, may negatively affect social functioning and more research is needed to understand neural mechanisms of observed deficits.