Higher autism trait severity in children associates with diminished integration of angry prosody in semantic processing

Gilbert Ka Bo Lau, Ming Lui*, Andrea Hildebrandt, Werner Sommer, Changsong Zhou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Previous studies examined group differences of individuals with and without autism. This study investigated individual differences in automatic integration of emotional prosody during semantic processing at the behavioral and neural levels among children using a continuous measure of autism trait severity.

Method: Event-related potentials (ERPs) of 46 children, 21 of them diagnosed with ASD, were measured. Children determined the semantic valence of spoken words, and ignored the emotional prosody, which was either congruent or incongruent with the semantic valence.

Results: Independent of congruency, higher autism trait severity and Intelligence Quotient (IQ) were associated with faster reaction times (RTs), while higher IQ and language ability were associated with higher accuracy. The difference between congruent and incongruent conditions (congruency effect) indicates automatic integration of emotional prosody in semantic processing. In ERPs, higher autism trait severity and higher IQ were associated with smaller congruency effects on P2 amplitudes for angry (but not happy) prosodic stimuli.

Conclusion: The findings suggest a stronger tendency to ignore angry prosodies among children with higher autism trait severity. This has implications for educational practices and parent counseling regarding communication with children with high autism trait severity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102325
Number of pages11
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Volume111
Early online date13 Jan 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Jan 2024

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

User-Defined Keywords

  • Autism traits
  • Communication
  • Emotional prosody
  • Event-related potentials
  • Semantic processing
  • Speech

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