Imitation and recognition of facial emotions in autism: a computer vision approach

Hanna Drimalla, Irina Baskow, Behnoush Behnia, Stefan Roepke, Isabel Dziobek
2021 Molecular Autism  
Background Imitation of facial expressions plays an important role in social functioning. However, little is known about the quality of facial imitation in individuals with autism and its relationship with defining difficulties in emotion recognition. Methods We investigated imitation and recognition of facial expressions in 37 individuals with autism spectrum conditions and 43 neurotypical controls. Using a novel computer-based face analysis, we measured instructed imitation of facial
more » ... expressions and related it to emotion recognition abilities. Results Individuals with autism imitated facial expressions if instructed to do so, but their imitation was both slower and less precise than that of neurotypical individuals. In both groups, a more precise imitation scaled positively with participants' accuracy of emotion recognition. Limitations Given the study's focus on adults with autism without intellectual impairment, it is unclear whether the results generalize to children with autism or individuals with intellectual disability. Further, the new automated facial analysis, despite being less intrusive than electromyography, might be less sensitive. Conclusions Group differences in emotion recognition, imitation and their interrelationships highlight potential for treatment of social interaction problems in individuals with autism.
doi:10.1186/s13229-021-00430-0 pmid:33823922 fatcat:mol36sk72bcc3fv3xb3qe3uf4q