Becoming a face expert: A computerized face-training program for high-functioning individuals with autism spectrum disorders

Susan Faja, Elizabeth Aylward, Raphael Bernier, Geraldine Dawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Typically developing individuals process faces using strategies that differ from those used for processing objects, and which tend to be holistic and based on configural information. Behavioral and neuroimaging studies suggest that individuals with autism may not utilize the same specialized strategies for face processing. The present study was designed to investigate whether computerized face-specific training, based on a modified version of Gauthier and Tarr's (1997) expertise protocol, can influence the face processing strategies and abilities of adolescents and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Ten individuals with ASD were assigned to either a training protocol designed to improve face processing (N = 5) or a control condition (N = 5). Outcomes assessed holistic processing and configural sensitivity. All trained individuals achieved a behavioral criterion of developing expertise in face recognition established in the literature. Outcome assessments indicated that the trained group showed significantly greater sensitivity to second-order configural relations compared with untrained controls, but did not differ on the measure of holistic processing. These findings suggest that face processing ability and strategies in autism can be significantly improved through training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalDevelopmental Neuropsychology
Volume33
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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