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Roxane J. Itier, Karly N. Neath; Influence of autistic-like and empathetic traits on early ERPs to emotional faces . Journal of Vision 2014;14(10):128. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/14.10.128.
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Personality traits such as social skills have been shown to modulate early neural responses to emotional faces during expression-irrelevant tasks. We explored whether autistic-like traits and empathy modulated the time course of emotional face processing, and whether this depended on the facial feature fixated and on the task. ERPs were recorded in response to presentations of fearful, joyful or neutral faces while fixation was restricted to the left eye, right eye, nose or mouth using an eye-tracker. In the gender discrimination task, higher Autism Quotient (AQ) scores were associated with a decrease in the face-sensitive N170 component regardless of emotions and fixation locations, possibly reflecting different levels of structural encoding when the task is emotion-irrelevant. In the explicit emotion discrimination task, higher AQ scores were associated with an increased P1 component for specific locations and emotions, reflecting complex modulations of attention to emotional stimuli. High scores on the Empathy Quotient (EQ) were associated with a decrease in the N170 only in the explicit task, possibly reflecting different levels of structural encoding when the task is emotion-relevant. Results suggest that individual differences in autistic-like traits and empathy influence attention to and structural encoding of emotional faces differently as a function of task instructions.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2014
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