Previous studies have demonstrated that angry faces capture humans' attention more rapidly than emotionally positive faces. This phenomenon is referred to as the anger superiority effect (ASE). Despite atypical emotional processing, adults and children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) have been reported to show ASE as well as typically developed (TD) individuals. So far, however, few studies have clarified whether or not the mechanisms underlying ASE are the same for both TD and ASD individuals. Here, we tested how TD and ASD children process schematic emotional faces during detection by employing a recognition task in combination with a face-in-the-crowd task. Results of the face-in-the-crowd task revealed the prevalence of ASE both in TD and ASD children. However, the results of the recognition task revealed group differences: In TD children, detection of angry faces required more configural face processing and disrupted the processing of local features. In ASD children, on the other hand, it required more feature-based processing rather than configural processing. Despite the small sample sizes, these findings provide preliminary evidence that children with ASD, in contrast to TD children, show quick detection of angry faces by extracting local features in faces.
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