Title page for ETD etd-05142012-092046

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Ostmeyer-Kountzman, Katrina
Author's Email Address kfok@vt.edu
URN etd-05142012-092046
Title Emotion Recognition of Dynamic Faces in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Degree Master of Science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Cooper, Robin K. Panneton Committee Member
Ollendick, Thomas M. Committee Member
Scarpa-Friedman, Angela Committee Member
  • eye tracking
  • autism
  • emotion recognition
Date of Defense 2012-05-10
Availability unrestricted
Studies examining impaired emotion recognition and perceptual processing in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) show inconsistent results (Harms, Martin, & Wallace, 2010; Jemel, Mottron, & Dawson, 2006), and many of these studies include eye tracking data. The current study utilizes a novel task, emotion recognition of a dynamic talking face with sound, to compare children with ASD (n=8; aged 6-10, 7 male) with mental age (MA) and gender matched controls (n=8; aged 4-10, 7 male) on an emotion identification and eye tracking task. Children were asked to watch several short video clips (2.5-5 seconds) portraying the emotions of happy, sad, excited, scared, and angry and identify the emotion portrayed in the video. A mixed factorial ANOVA analysis was conducted to examine group differences in attention when viewing the stimuli. Differences in emotion identification ability were examined using a t-test and Fisher’s exact tests of independence. Findings indicated that children with ASD spent less time looking at faces and the mouth region than controls. Additionally, the amount of time children with ASD spent looking at the mouth region predicted better performance on the emotion identification task. The study was underpowered; however, so these results were preliminary and require replication. Results are discussed in relation to natural processing of emotion and social stimuli.

[revised ETD per Dean DePauw 10/25/12 GMc]

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