Eye tracking and fear recognition deficits in Turner syndrome

Soc Neurosci. 2006;1(3-4):259-69. doi: 10.1080/17470910600989912.


Turner syndrome (TS) is a chromosomal disorder of X-monosomy in females. A minority have impaired social responsiveness, poor discrimination of facial emotions (especially fear), and abnormal amygdala-cortical connectivity. We tested the hypothesis that abnormal gaze fixation, especially with the eye region of faces, would be associated with these features, in a similar pattern to that seen in subjects with autism. Furthermore, since these features tend to be more striking in TS women whose X chromosome is maternal in origin, we also predicted that there may be a difference within the Turner's group according to parental origin of the single X. Adults with 45,X karyotype and age and IQ matched 46,XX women were recruited and tested. Facial fear recognition was significantly worse in 45,X females than controls, but there were no group differences according to parental origin of their single X chromosome. Subsequently, we tested 45,X and 46,XX women using a remote eye-tracking device, as they viewed photographs of emotional human faces. Striking differences in scanpaths were found between the TS and controls, and within the TS group, but not according to parental origin of the X chromosome. These findings provide novel evidence for abnormal face processing in some women with TS, and indicate a potential neural mechanism underlying the difficulties in some key aspects of social cognition.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Facial Expression
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Fear / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Turner Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Turner Syndrome / psychology*