Children with autism often struggle to identify emotional cues from others’ voices due to differences in the wiring and functioning of key social centers in the brain, according to a new study from Stanford Medical School. I have.
Findings published online Jan. 9 Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, provides an explanation for the neurological origins of key social challenges in autism. According to researchers, they also provide clues about the types of treatments that might help.
“Children typically learn to map specific sounds in a person’s voice to specific emotions,” said co-lead author of the study and clinical researcher in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine. Associate Professor Daniel Abrams, Ph.D.
“If a mother or father is unhappy, a small child will know it before they understand every word,” says Abrams, and young children perceive slow, low-pitched speech as expressing sadness. “However, children with autism have a difficult time mapping vocal characteristics to emotions. I didn’t understand why I had a disability to identify and recognize cues.”
Abrams shares lead authorship on the study with Dr. Simon Leipold, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University School of Medicine when the study was conducted. Leipold is currently a postdoctoral fellow at his Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior at Radboud University in the Netherlands. The lead authors of this study are his Vinod Menon, Ph.D., Rachel L., Professor and Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Walter F. Nichols, MD.
clues that connect us
Autism is a developmental disorder that affects 1 in 54 children and is characterized by challenges with social communication, paresthesias, stereotypies, and restricted interests.
Previous research on autistic social communication has mainly focused on how people with autism interpret facial expressions. But vocal prosody—a technical term for the emotional cues contained in the voice—may be an even more important signal of how others are feeling, researchers say.
“These are some of the most fundamental cues between parents and children, and between peers and adult partners,” Menon said. and is essential for successful social interactions.”