Facial identity recognition in children with autism spectrum disorders revealed by P300 analysis: A preliminary study

Atsuko Gunji, Takaaki Goto, Yosuke Kita, Ryusuke Sakuma, Naomi Kokubo, Toshihide Koike, Kotoe Sakihara, Makiko Kaga, Masumi Inagaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Background: To reveal the neural substrate of communication difficulties in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), we investigated the P300 component of event-related potentials (ERPs) as represented by the average of electroencephalography findings time-locked to events and behavior. Because the P300 amplitude influences attentional resource allocation during discrimination, the component elicited during perception of known and unknown faces should indicate familiarity processing. Methods and results: Nine typically developing children (TD) and nine children with ASDs participated in this study (Experiment 1). The P300 amplitude in TD children was significantly larger during familiar face perception than during unfamiliar face perception (p<0.01). However, there was no evidence of familiarity effect in children with ASDs. In three children with ASDs, we also assessed the P300 amplitude during perception of a therapist's face one month before (baseline), a few days before and after social skills training (SST) sessions (Experiment 2). To evaluate the effect of familiarity on facial identity processing, we analyzed the therapist/unknown ratio of P300 amplitudes related to the face discrimination task as an index. The ratio was larger after SST sessions than before, but there was no difference in the ratio between baseline and before SST assessments. Conclusion: The P300 might be influenced by attentional resource allocation depending on the stage of learning face identification in children with ASDs. We speculate that this approach to evaluating brain responses during facial identity recognition could be used as a tool to clarify children's communication difficulties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-298
Number of pages6
JournalBrain and Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Apr
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Event related-potential (ERP)
  • Facial identity recognition
  • Intervention
  • P300
  • P3b

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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