Autism Research – ability to recognise emotional facial expressions worsens with age

Georgetown University – New research has found that for people on the autism spectrum, the ability to recognise emotional facial expressions worsens with age.

Dr. Abigail Marsh, associate professor of psychology in Georgetown College told:

“Our findings suggest that while neurodevelopmental processes and social experience produce improvements in facial emotion recognition abilities for children without autism, autistic children experience disruptions in these processes,”

Researchers found consistent deficits with facial-emotion recognition and in particular those of anger, fear, and surprise.

Leah Lozier a researcher who has just received her Ph.D. in neuroscience told that these impairments in recognizing emotional facial expressions get worse over time.

The researchers noted that many adults on the autistic spectrum may have difficulty in social settings due to the fact that they find reading nonverbal cues difficult.

Dr Marsh also added that:

“Given how important facial expressions are for regulating social interactions, this reinforces the importance of early interventions that may help prevent this gap from widening during development.”

The research is published in the journal Development and Psychopathology.

The original article by Traci Pedersen on the PsychCentral website can be found here