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Orienting to social stimuli differentiates social cognitive

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Orienting to social stimuli differentiates social cognitive impairment in autism and schizophreniaMethodsSampleStimuli and taskEyetrackingStatistical analysesResultsGroup comparisons in the accuracy of emotional judgmentsGroup comparisons in visual scanpathsSpatio-temporal characteristics of initial fixation patternsCorrelations between visual scanning patterns and emotional judgmentsDiscussionAcknowledgmentsReferencesUNCORRECTED PROOFPlease cite this article in press as: Sasson, N., et al., Orienting to social stimuli differentiates social cognitive impairment in autism andschizophrenia, Neuropsychologia (2007), doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2007.03.009ARTICLE IN PRESS+ModelNSY 2576 1–9Neuropsychologia xxx (2007) xxx–xxxOrienting to social stimuli differentiates social cognitiveimpairment in autism and schizophrenia34Noah Sassona,∗, Naotsugu Tsuchiyab, Robert Hurleya, Shannon M. Couturec,David L. Pennc, Ralph Adolphsb, Joseph Pivena56aUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Neurodevelopmental Disorders Research Center, CB#3367,Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3366, United States78bCalifornia Institute of Technology, Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, United States9cUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Psychology, United States10Received 21 November 2006; received in revised form 9 March 2007; accepted 11 March 200711Abstract12Both autism and schizophrenia feature deficits in aspects of social cognition that may be related to amygdala dysfunction, but it is unclearwhether these are similar or different patterns of impairment. We compared the visual scanning patterns and emotion judgments of individualswith autism, individuals with schizophrenia and controls on a task well characterized with respect to amygdala functioning. On this task, eyemovements of participants are recorded as they assess emotional content within a series of complex social scenes where faces are either includedor digitally erased. Results indicated marked abnormalities in visual scanning for both disorders. Controls increased their gaze on face regionswhen faces were present to a significantly greater degree than both the autism or schizophrenia groups. While the control and the schizophreniagroups oriented to face regions faster when faces were present compared to when they were absent, the autism group oriented at the same rate inboth conditions. The schizophrenia group, meanwhile, exhibited a delay in orienting to face regions across both conditions, although whether anti-psychotic medication contributed to this effect is unclear. These findings suggest that while processing emotional information in social scenes, bothindividuals with autism and individuals with schizophrenia fixate faces less than controls, although only those with autism fail to orient to faces morerapidly based on the presence of facial information. Autism and schizophrenia may therefore share an abnormality in utilizing facial informationfor assessing emotional content in social scenes, but differ in the ability to seek out socially relevant cues from complex stimuli. Impairmentsin social orienting are discussed within the context of evidence suggesting the role of the amygdala in orienting to emotionally meaningfulinformation.1314151617181920212223242526© 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.27Keywords: Autism; Schizophrenia; Eyetracking; Social cognition; Emotion; Perception2829Both autism and schizophrenia are characterized in part by1pervasive social dysfunction that impairs the ability to initi-2ate and maintain reciprocal interaction (DSM-IV; APA, 1994).3In recent years, a great deal of attention has been devoted to4uncovering specific deficits in social cognition that may con-5tribute to this impairment. The term social cognition generally6refers to the perception, processing and interpretation of infor-7mation related to social interaction (Brothers, 1990). A range8of social cognitive deficits have been reported for both autism9and schizophrenia (Abdi & Sharma, 2004; Pelphrey, Adolphs,10∗Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 919 843 8123; fax: +1 919 843 3825.E-mail address: [email protected] (N. Sasson).& Morris, 2005; Pinkham, Penn, Perkins, & Lieberman, 2003), 11particularly in theory of mind (Baron-Cohen, 1995; Corcoran, 122001; Yirmiya, Erel, Shaked, & Solomonica-Levi, 1998), facial 13affect recognition (Celani, Battacchi, & Arcidiacono, 1999; 14Kohler & Brennan, 2004), and the perception of social cues 15(Archer, Hay, & Young, 1994; Klin, Jones, Schultz, Volkmar, & 16Cohen, 2002a). Although reports of these impairments are often 17remarkably similar for both disorders, they have typically been 18investigated independently with little attempt to compare the 19groups. To this point, only three studies have contrasted social20cognitive functioning in schizophrenia and autism: two reported 21similar impairments in autism and schizophrenia on varying 22measures of theory of mind (Craig, Hatton, Craig, & Bentall, 232004; Pilowsky, Yirmiya, Arbelle, & Mozes, 2000), while a 2410028-3932/$ – see front matter © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.2 doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2007.03.009UNCORRECTED PROOFPlease cite this article in press as: Sasson, N., et al., Orienting to social stimuli differentiates social cognitive impairment in autism andschizophrenia, Neuropsychologia (2007), doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2007.03.009ARTICLE IN PRESS+ModelNSY 2576 1–92 N. Sasson et al. / Neuropsychologia xxx (2007) xxx–xxxthird found evidence for greater impairment in autism than25schizophrenia for facial affect recognition (Bolte & Poustka,262003).27Investigations aimed at characterizing the neural correlates28of social cognitive dysfunction in autism and schizophrenia29also tend to occur in parallel and without direct comparison,30despite overlap in the neural structures that are implicated in31both disorders. These studies have largely focused on a network32of four areas: the fusiform gyrus, the superior temporal sulcus,33the medial prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. The fusiform34gyrus is implicated in face processing and identity recogni-35tion (Kanwisher, McDermott, & Chun, 1997; Puce, Allison,36Gore, & McCarthy, 1995) and has been reported to be function-37ally abnormal in both autism (Pierce, Muller, Ambrose, Allen,38& Courchesne, 2001; Schultz et al., 2000) and schizophrenia39(Quintana, Wong, Ortiz-Portillo, Marder, & Mazziotta, 2003;40Streit et al., 2001), although recent findings


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