ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2020, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (7): 1172-1186.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2020.01172

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Attention bias toward threatening emotional faces in individuals with high-functioning autism

FAN Xiaozhuang, BI Xiaobin, XIE Yu, HE Huizhong()   

  1. Autism Research Center, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
  • Received:2019-04-19 Online:2020-07-15 Published:2020-05-21
  • Contact: HE Huizhong


High-functioning autism (HFA) is a term commonly used to identify patients with autism spectrum disorder who have average or above average intellectual abilities but also face severe social dysfunctions. Attention bias towards threatening emotional faces is closely related to the development of social function in individuals with HFA. By reviewing the related research, the authors found that individuals with HFA do not have threatening emotional face attention bias during the automatic processing stage or emotional target participation stage; however, in the control processing stage, where tasks are unrelated to emotions, they demonstrate threatening emotional face attention bias. The theoretical explanations for this threatening emotional face attention bias in individuals with HFA mainly include the Amygdala theory of autism, Intense world theory, and Executive function theory. In terms of neurophysiological mechanisms, it may be related to their abnormal subcutaneous and cortical pathway functions and may be affected by serotonin system genes and oxytocin levels. Based on a comprehensive consideration of research methods and individual factors, future research can further explore the relevant processing characteristics and neuro-biological mechanisms and make efforts to develop scientific and effective intervention strategies.

Key words: high-functioning autism (HFA), threatening, emotional faces, attention bias

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