Samanta Leiva, Laura Margulis, Andrea Micciulli, Aldo Ferreres
Objective: Existing single-case studies have reported deficit in recognizing basic emotions through facial expression and unaffected performance with body expressions, but not the opposite pattern. The aim of this paper is to present a case study with impaired emotion recognition through body expressions and intact performance with facial expressions. Methods: In this single-case study we assessed a 30-year-old patient with autism spectrum disorder, without intellectual disability, and a healthy control group (n = 30) with four tasks of basic and complex emotion recognition through face and body movements, and two non-emotional control tasks. To analyze the dissociation between facial and body expressions, we used Crawford and Garthwaite’s operational criteria, and we compared the patient and the control group performance with a modified one-tailed t-test designed specifically for single-case studies. Results: There were no statistically significant differences between the patient’s and the control group’s performances on the non-emotional body movement task or the facial perception task. For both kinds of emotions (basic and complex) when the patient’s performance was compared to the control group’s, statistically significant differences were only observed for the recognition of body expressions. There were no significant differences between the patient’s and the control group’s correct answers for emotional facial stimuli. Conclusions: Our results showed a profile of impaired emotion recognition through body expressions and intact performance with facial expressions. This is the first case study that describes the existence of this kind of dissociation pattern between facial and body expressions of basic and complex emotions.
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