Keep it simple: Identification of basic versus complex emotions in spoken language in individuals with autism spectrum disorder without intellectual disability: A meta-analysis study

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Abstract

Daily functioning involves identifying emotions in spoken language, a fundamental aspect of social interactions. To date, there is inconsistent evidence in the literature on whether individuals with autism spectrum disorder without intellectual disability (ASD-without-ID) experience difficulties in identification of spoken emotions. We conducted a meta-analysis (literature search following the PRISMA guidelines), with 26 data sets (taken from 23 peer-reviewed journal articles) comparing individuals with ASD-without-ID (N = 614) and typically-developed (TD) controls (N = 640), from nine countries and in seven languages (published until February 2020). In our analyses there was no sufficient evidence to suggest that individuals with HF-ASD differ from matched controls in the identification of simple prosodic emotions (e.g., sadness, happiness). However, individuals with ASD-without-ID were found to perform significantly worse than controls in identification of complex prosodic emotions (e.g., envy and boredom). The level of the semantic content of the stimuli presented (e.g., sentences vs. strings of digits) was not found to have an impact on the results. In conclusion, the difference in findings between simple and complex emotions calls for a new-look on emotion processing in ASD-without-ID. Intervention programs may rely on the intact abilities of individuals with ASD-without-ID to process simple emotions and target improved performance with complex emotions. Lay summary: Individuals with autism spectrum disorder without intellectual disability (ASD-without-ID) do not differ from matched controls in the identification of simple prosodic emotions (e.g., sadness, happiness). However, they were found to perform significantly worse than controls in the identification of complex prosodic emotions (e.g., envy, boredom). This was found in a meta-analysis of 26 data sets with 1254 participants from nine countries and in seven languages. Intervention programs may rely on the intact abilities of individuals with ASD-without-ID to process simple emotions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1948-1964
Number of pages17
JournalAutism Research
Volume14
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Keywords

  • ASD-without-ID
  • emotions
  • prosody
  • social cognition
  • speech perception

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