Facial affect recognition training in autism: can we animate the fusiform gyrus?

Behav Neurosci. 2006 Feb;120(1):211-6. doi: 10.1037/0735-7044.120.1.211.


One of the most consistent findings in the neuroscience of autism is hypoactivation of the fusiform gyrus (FG) during face processing. In this study the authors examined whether successful facial affect recognition training is associated with an increased activation of the FG in autism. The effect of a computer-based program to teach facial affect identification was examined in 10 individuals with high-functioning autism. Blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) changes in the FG and other regions of interest, as well as behavioral facial affect recognition measures, were assessed pre- and posttraining. No significant activation changes in the FG were observed. Trained participants showed behavioral improvements, which were accompanied by higher BOLD fMRI signals in the superior parietal lobule and maintained activation in the right medial occipital gyrus.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Autistic Disorder / complications*
  • Autistic Disorder / metabolism*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Face*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Occipital Lobe / blood supply*
  • Occipital Lobe / metabolism*
  • Parietal Lobe / blood supply*
  • Parietal Lobe / metabolism*
  • Recognition, Psychology*
  • Severity of Illness Index