Do the eyes have it? Inferring mental states from animated faces in autism

Child Dev. 2007 Mar-Apr;78(2):397-411. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.01005.x.


The ability of individuals with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) to infer mental states from dynamic and static facial stimuli was investigated. In Experiment 1, individuals with ASD (10- to 14-year olds; N=18) performed above chance but not as well as controls. Accuracy scores for mental states did not differ between dynamic and static faces. Furthermore, participants with ASD gained higher scores when the eyes conveyed information than when this region remained static and neutral. Experiment 2 revealed that those with ASD (11- to 15-year olds; N=18) were as successful as controls in recognizing mental states when the eyes were presented in isolation or in the context of the whole face. Findings challenge claims that individuals with ASD are impaired at inferring mental states from the eyes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology*
  • Child
  • Culture
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Emotions*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motion Perception*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Personal Construct Theory*