Autistic trait interactions underlie sex-dependent facial recognition abilities in the normal population

Valla, JM, Maendel, JW, Ganzel, BL, Barsky, AR and Belmonte, MK ORCID: 0000-0002-4633-9400, 2013. Autistic trait interactions underlie sex-dependent facial recognition abilities in the normal population. Frontiers in Psychology, 4. ISSN 1664-1078


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Autistic face processing difficulties are either uniquely social or due to a piecemeal cognitive "style". Co-morbidity of social deficits and piecemeal cognition in autism makes teasing apart these accounts difficult. These traits vary normally, and are more separable in the general population, suggesting another way to compare accounts. Participants completed the Autism Quotient survey of autistic traits, and one of three face recognition tests: full-face, eyes-only, or mouth-only. Social traits predicted performance in the full-face condition in both sexes. Eyes-only males’ performance was predicted by a social × cognitive trait interaction: attention to detail boosted face recognition in males with few social traits, but hindered performance in those reporting many social traits. This suggests social/non-social Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) trait interactions at the behavioral level. In the presence of few ASC-like difficulties in social reciprocity, an ASC-like attention to detail may confer advantages on typical males’ face recognition skills. On the other hand, when attention to detail co-occurs with difficulties in social reciprocity, a detailed focus may exacerbate such already present social difficulties, as is thought to occur in autism.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Frontiers in Psychology
Creators: Valla, J.M., Maendel, J.W., Ganzel, B.L., Barsky, A.R. and Belmonte, M.K.
Publisher: Frontiers Media
Place of Publication: Lausanne, Switzerland
Date: 2013
Volume: 4
ISSN: 1664-1078
Rights: © 2013 Frontiers Media S.A. All Rights Reserved.
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Added: 09 Oct 2015 10:23
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2017 13:28

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