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Qualitative differences in the spatiotemporal brain states supporting configural face processing emerge in adolescence in autism


Haartsen, Rianne; Mason, Luke; Garces, Pilar; Gui, Anna; Charman, Tony; Tillmann, Julian; Johnson, Mark H; Buitelaar, Jan K; Loth, Eva; Murphy, Declan; Jones, Emily J H; et al; Brandeis, Daniel (2022). Qualitative differences in the spatiotemporal brain states supporting configural face processing emerge in adolescence in autism. Cortex, 155:13-29.

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Studying the neural processing of faces can illuminate the mechanisms of compromised social expertise in autism. To resolve a longstanding debate, we examined whether differences in configural face processing in autism are underpinned by quantitative differences in the activation of typical face processing pathways, or the recruitment of non-typical neural systems.

METHODS

We investigated spatial and temporal characteristics of event-related EEG responses to upright and inverted faces in a large sample of children, adolescents, and adults with and without autism. We examined topographic analyses of variance and global field power to identify group differences in the spatial and temporal response to face inversion. We then examined how quasi-stable spatiotemporal profiles - microstates - are modulated by face orientation and diagnostic group.

RESULTS

Upright and inverted faces produced distinct profiles of topography and strength in the topographical analyses. These topographical profiles differed between diagnostic groups in adolescents, but not in children or adults. In the microstate analysis, the autistic group showed differences in the activation strength of normative microstates during early-stage processing at all ages, suggesting consistent quantitative differences in the operation of typical processing pathways; qualitative differences in microstate topographies during late-stage processing became prominent in adults, suggesting the increasing involvement of non-typical neural systems with processing time and over development.

CONCLUSIONS

These findings suggest that early difficulties with configural face processing may trigger later compensatory processes in autism that emerge in later development.

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Studying the neural processing of faces can illuminate the mechanisms of compromised social expertise in autism. To resolve a longstanding debate, we examined whether differences in configural face processing in autism are underpinned by quantitative differences in the activation of typical face processing pathways, or the recruitment of non-typical neural systems.

METHODS

We investigated spatial and temporal characteristics of event-related EEG responses to upright and inverted faces in a large sample of children, adolescents, and adults with and without autism. We examined topographic analyses of variance and global field power to identify group differences in the spatial and temporal response to face inversion. We then examined how quasi-stable spatiotemporal profiles - microstates - are modulated by face orientation and diagnostic group.

RESULTS

Upright and inverted faces produced distinct profiles of topography and strength in the topographical analyses. These topographical profiles differed between diagnostic groups in adolescents, but not in children or adults. In the microstate analysis, the autistic group showed differences in the activation strength of normative microstates during early-stage processing at all ages, suggesting consistent quantitative differences in the operation of typical processing pathways; qualitative differences in microstate topographies during late-stage processing became prominent in adults, suggesting the increasing involvement of non-typical neural systems with processing time and over development.

CONCLUSIONS

These findings suggest that early difficulties with configural face processing may trigger later compensatory processes in autism that emerge in later development.

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Additional indexing

Contributors:EU-AIMS LEAP group
Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
Life Sciences > Cognitive Neuroscience
Uncontrolled Keywords:Autism, Development, EEG, Face inversion effect, Face processing.
Language:English
Date:14 July 2022
Deposited On:28 Sep 2022 15:21
Last Modified:27 Apr 2024 01:39
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0010-9452
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2022.06.010
PubMed ID:35961249
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)