Motor, emotional, and cognitive empathy in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder and conduct disorder

Danielle Bons, Egon Van Den Broek, Floor Scheepers, Pierre Herpers, Nanda Rommelse, Jan K. Buitelaaar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

It is unclear which aspects of empathy are shared and which are uniquely affected in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and conduct disorder (CD) as are the neurobiological correlates of these empathy impairments. The aim of this systematic review is to describe the overlap and specificity of motor, emotional, and cognitive aspects of empathy in children and adolescents with ASD or CD. Motor and cognitive empathy impairments are found in both ASD and CD, yet the specificity seems to differ. In ASD facial mimicry and emotion recognition may be impaired for all basic emotions, whereas in CD this is only the case for negative emotions. Emotional empathy and the role of attention to the eyes therein need further investigation. We hypothesize that impaired motor and cognitive empathy in both disorders are a consequence of lack of attention to the eyes. However, we hypothesize major differences in emotional empathy deficits between ASD and CD, probably due to emotional autonomic and amygdala hyper-responsivity in ASD versus hypo-responsivity in CD, both resulting in lack of attention to the eyes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-443
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Volume41
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2013

Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Conduct disorder
  • Emotion
  • Empathy
  • Facial expression

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