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Equivalent neural responses in children and adolescents with and without autism during judgments of affect


Hoffmann,  Ferdinand
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Vander Wyk, B. C., Hoffmann, F., & Pelphrey, K. A. (2014). Equivalent neural responses in children and adolescents with and without autism during judgments of affect. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 8, 121-130. doi:10.1016/j.dcn.2013.08.001.

Previous research has noted disrupted patterns of neural activation during emotion, processing in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). However, prior research relied on, designs that may place greater cognitive load on individuals with ASD. In order to address this issue, we adapted the fMRI task of Ochsner et al. (2004a) for children by, presenting fewer stimuli, with fewer valence levels, and longer stimuli duration. A localizer sample of, typically developing children (n = 26) was used to construct regions of interest involved in emotional, processing. Activations in these regions during self- and other-referential emotion processing was, compared in age, IQ, gender matched groups (n = 17 ASD, n = 16 TD). Matched samples replicate, condition contrasts of the localizer, but no group differences were found in behavior measures or, neural activation. An exploratory functional connectivity analysis in a subset of the matched groups, also did not detect striking differences between the groups. These findings suggest that disruptions in activation in emotion processing neural networks in ASD is partially a function of task related cognitive load.