Winkielman, P., McIntosh, D. N., & Oberman, L. (2009). Embodied and disembodied emotion processing: Learning from and about typical and autistic individuals. Emotion Review, 2, 178-190.
Successful social functioning requires quick and accurate processing of emotion and generation of appropriate reactions. In typical individuals, these skills are supported by embodied processing, recruiting central and peripheral mechanisms. However, emotional processing is atypical in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Individuals with ASD show deficits in recognition of briefly presented emotional expressions. They tend to recognize expressions using rule-based, rather than template strategies. Individuals with ASD also do not spontaneously and quickly mimic emotional expressions, unless the task encourages engagement. When processing emotional scenes, ASD individuals show atypical basic motivational responses, despite intact ability to verbally determine stimulus valence. We discuss how these findings highlight the contribution of both embodied and disembodied mechanisms to typical and atypical emotional functioning.