Emotion Processing and Intervention in Autism Spec...

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Emotion Processing and Intervention in Autism Spectrum Conditions


Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement


  • Dr Sarah Cassidy, (Centre for Psychology Behaviour and Achievement, Coventry University, UK)
  • Professor Simon Baron-Cohen (Autism Research Centre, University of Cambridge, UK)
  • Dr Helen O’Reilly (University College London)
  • Dr Danielle Ropar (University of Nottingham), Toshiba Research Europe (Cambridge Science Park)

Project Objectives

  • To develop new innovative methods to explore how those with autism process emotions in realistic social situations
  • To develop new evidence based interventions to improve emotion processing skills in people with autism

Impact Statement

Although current diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) includes difficulties interpreting other’s emotions and responding appropriately (APA, 2000), emotion processing difficulties in ASC individuals have not been consistently demonstrated in laboratory experiments (Uljarevic and Hamilton, 2013; Gaigg 2012; Harms, Martin and Wallace, 2010).  These inconsistent results could be due to the fact that the emotion processing tasks typically used do not match the demands of everyday life (e.g. Cassidy et al. 2014). We are exploring how people with ASC process emotions in realistic social situations, and how this ability typically develops, in collaboration with the University of Nottingham.  We are also developing and evaluating novel interventions to improve these abilities in people with ASC.  In collaboration with the Autism Research Centre, Cambridge University and University College London, we are using eye tracking and brain mapping technologies to explore whether the Transporters intervention (Golan et al. 2010) improves attention to and recognition of emotions in children with ASC.  We are also exploring the feasibility of a new technology, the non-human avatar Xpressive Talk as a potential intervention tool to improve emotion recognition in people with ASC, in collaboration with the Autism Research Centre, Cambridge University, and Toshiba Research Europe, based in Cambridge Science Park.