Impairment in reading negative social cues extends beyond the face in autism.

Publication date: Aug 01, 2023

Nonverbal expressions are essential to regulating social communication and interaction. Impaired emotion recognition from facial expressions has been linked to various psychiatric conditions characterized by severe social deficits such as autism. As body expressions as an additional source of social-emotional information have attracted little research attention, little is known about whether emotion recognition impairments are specific to faces, or extend to body expressions. This study explored and compared emotion recognition from face versus body expressions in autism spectrum disorder. We compared 30 men with autism spectrum disorder to 30 male age- and IQ-matched control participants in their ability to recognize angry, happy, and neutral expressions from dynamic face and body expressions. Participants with autism spectrum disorder showed impaired recognition of angry expressions from both faces and bodies, while there were no group differences in recognizing happy and neutral expressions. In autism spectrum disorder, recognizing angry face expressions was inversely predicted by gaze avoidance, while recognizing angry body expressions was inversely predicted by impairments in social interaction and autistic traits. These findings suggest that distinct mechanisms may underlie the impaired emotion recognition from face and body expressions in autism spectrum disorder, respectively. Overall, our study demonstrates that emotion-specific recognition difficulties in autism spectrum disorder are not limited to face expressions but extend to emotional body expressions.

Concepts Keywords
Angry Autism
Autism Body expressions
Clinical Emotion recognition
Happy Face expressions
Men Gaze avoidance
Social cognition


Type Source Name
disease MESH autism
disease MESH facial expressions
disease MESH autism spectrum disorder

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