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Behav. Sci. 2018, 8(2), 22; doi:10.3390/bs8020022

Sensitivity to Social Contingency in Adults with High-Functioning Autism during Computer-Mediated Embodied Interaction

1
Plan de Estudios Combinados en Medicina (MD/PhD), Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 04510 Mexico City, Mexico
2
Centro de Ciencias de la Complejidad, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 04510 Mexico City, Mexico
3
Departamento de Ciencias de la Computación, Instituto de Investigaciones en Matemáticas Aplicadas y en Sistemas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 04510 Mexico City, Mexico
4
Independent Max Planck Research Group for Social Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, 80804 Munich, Germany
5
Department of Psychiatry, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, 80539 Munich, Germany
6
Cognitive Neuroscience, Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-3), Jülich Research Center, 52425 Jülich, Germany
7
Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital Cologne, 50937 Cologne, Germany
8
School of Psychology, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 3FX, Scotland, UK
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 25 November 2017 / Revised: 5 February 2018 / Accepted: 7 February 2018 / Published: 8 February 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Embodied Aesthetics and Interpersonal Resonance)
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Abstract

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be understood as a social interaction disorder. This makes the emerging “second-person approach” to social cognition a more promising framework for studying ASD than classical approaches focusing on mindreading capacities in detached, observer-based arrangements. According to the second-person approach, embodied, perceptual, and embedded or interactive capabilities are also required for understanding others, and these are hypothesized to be compromised in ASD. We therefore recorded the dynamics of real-time sensorimotor interaction in pairs of control participants and participants with High-Functioning Autism (HFA), using the minimalistic human-computer interface paradigm known as “perceptual crossing” (PC). We investigated whether HFA is associated with impaired detection of social contingency, i.e., a reduced sensitivity to the other’s responsiveness to one’s own behavior. Surprisingly, our analysis reveals that, at least under the conditions of this highly simplified, computer-mediated, embodied form of social interaction, people with HFA perform equally well as controls. This finding supports the increasing use of virtual reality interfaces for helping people with ASD to better compensate for their social disabilities. Further dynamical analyses are necessary for a better understanding of the mechanisms that are leading to the somewhat surprising results here obtained. View Full-Text
Keywords: sensorimotor contingencies; intersubjectivity; autism spectrum disorder; embodied interaction; social interaction; virtual reality; human-computer interface sensorimotor contingencies; intersubjectivity; autism spectrum disorder; embodied interaction; social interaction; virtual reality; human-computer interface
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Zapata-Fonseca, L.; Froese, T.; Schilbach, L.; Vogeley, K.; Timmermans, B. Sensitivity to Social Contingency in Adults with High-Functioning Autism during Computer-Mediated Embodied Interaction. Behav. Sci. 2018, 8, 22.

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