Attribution of emotions to body postures: An independent component analysis study of functional connectivity in autism

Academic Article


  • The ability to interpret others' body language is a vital skill that helps us infer their thoughts and emotions. However, individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have been found to have difficulty in understanding the meaning of people's body language, perhaps leading to an overarching deficit in processing emotions. The current fMRI study investigates the functional connectivity underlying emotion and action judgment in the context of processing body language in high-functioning adolescents and young adults with autism, using an independent components analysis (ICA) of the fMRI time series. While there were no reliable group differences in brain activity, the ICA revealed significant involvement of occipital and parietal regions in processing body actions; and inferior frontal gyrus, superior medial prefrontal cortex, and occipital cortex in body expressions of emotions. In a between-group analysis, participants with autism, relative to typical controls, demonstrated significantly reduced temporal coherence in left ventral premotor cortex and right superior parietal lobule while processing emotions. Participants with ASD, on the other hand, showed increased temporal coherence in left fusiform gyrus while inferring emotions from body postures. Finally, a positive predictive relationship was found between empathizing ability and the brain areas underlying emotion processing in ASD participants. These results underscore the differential role of frontal and parietal brain regions in processing emotional body language in autism.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Libero LE; Stevens CE; Kana RK
  • Start Page

  • 5204
  • End Page

  • 5218
  • Volume

  • 35
  • Issue

  • 10