Sensory deficits are a feature of autism and schizophrenia spectrum disorders and are also common at the upper end of their non-clinical spectra. The mismatch negativity (MMN), an index of preattentive auditory processing, is particularly sensitive in detecting such deficits; however, little is known about the relationship between the visual MMN (vMMN) to emotional faces and the specific traits that exist within the spectrum disorders. We probed the vMMN to happy, sad, and neutral faces in 77 young adults (18-40 years) and found that the vMMN to happy faces (happy standard minus happy deviant stimuli) was significantly larger than the vMMNs to sad and neutral faces (p > 0.05). We also found a significant correlation between vMMN to happy faces and interpersonal difficulties as indexed by the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) Communication and Attention to Detail subscales, and Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire (SPQ) Interpersonal Features (p < 0.05). These findings suggest a specificity of preattentive processing of positive affect to interpersonal features across the autism and schizophrenia spectrum.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience