UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Mental and Social Health | Mental Disorders | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology | Psychology | Social Psychology and Interaction


Difficulty in social communication and interaction is a primary diagnostic feature of ASD. Research has found that adolescents with ASD display various impairments in social behavior such as theory of mind (ToM), emotion recognition, and social synchrony. However, not much is known about the relationships among these dimensions of social behavior. Adolescents with and without ASD participated in the study. ToM ability was measured by viewing social animations of geometric shapes, recognition of facial emotions was measured by viewing pictures of faces, and synchrony ability was measured with a spontaneously arising interpersonal movement task completed with a caregiver and an intentional interpersonal task. Attention and social responsiveness were measured using parent reports. We then examined the relationship between ToM, emotion recognition, clinical measures of attention and social responsiveness, and social synchronization that arises either spontaneously or intentionally. Results indicate that spontaneous synchrony was related to ToM and intentional synchrony was related to clinical measures of attention and social responsiveness. Facial emotion recognition was not related to either ToM or social synchrony. Our findings highlight the importance of biological motion perception and production and attention for more fully understanding the social behavior characteristic of ASD. The findings suggest that the processes underlying difficulties in spontaneous synchrony in ASD are different than the processes underlying difficulties in intentional synchronization.


autism, emotion recognition, social motor skill, social synchrony, theory of mind

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Copyright © 2018 Fitzpatrick, Frazier, Cochran, Mitchell, Coleman and Schmidt. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

DOI of Published Version



Front Psychol. 2018 Jul 31;9:1337. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01337. eCollection 2018. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Frontiers in psychology

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.