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Children with autism don't adapt as readily to unfamiliar faces
Date:8/30/2007

ultaneously, not just any particular feature.

The new study finds that children with autism dont experience the face identity aftereffect to the same degree that normal children do. In the study, kids were first introduced to two faces, those of Dan and Jim, each of whom they were told were team captains. They were then shown faces that looked like Dan or Jim to varying degrees. Those other faces were created with a computer so that the two faces gradually morphed with the mathematically calculated average face.

The kids with autism were just as able to distinguish between faces belonging to Dans team versus Jims "team," researchers found. The children were then shown computer-generated faces representing characteristics that were the opposite of those belonging to either Dan or Jim. After seeing opposite faces, typical kids suddenly found it much easier to place Dan-like or Jim-like faces on their rightful team. But the improvement in recognition was much smaller for children with autism.

The findings suggest that autistic children don't update their perceptions in the way typically developing children do. "Since faces are important for interpersonal communication, these adaptive difficulties could help explain some of the social problems that confront people with autism," Pellicano said.


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Contact: Nancy Wampler
nwampler@cell.com
617-386-2121
Cell Press
Source:Eurekalert

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