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Training Facial Expressions in Autism


Outcome: Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) learn to produce accurate facial expressions and remediate expression skills by playing FaceMaze-- a fun, gamified expression training platform utilizing real faces and Emotient's real-time facial expression recognition feedback. After FaceMaze training, preliminary analysis shows that participant improve in their abilities to perceive and produce facial emotions.

Impact/benefits: As a web-based training platform, FaceMaze makes expression training mobile, accessible, and affordable for families and individuals with ASD. Emotient's state-of-the-art expression recognition technology is combined with the best in empirically-based game design strategies to create a powerful and engaging facial expression training tool.

Explanation: Impairments in social communication and interaction experienced by individuals with ASD is augmented by production of disorganized and ambiguous facial expressions that fail to accurately communicate feelings. In a pacman-style format, FaceMaze trains expression production skills with instant corrective feedback. The child overcomes the face blockers in their path by mimicking their expressions and receiving feedback in the emotion mirror. Preliminary analysis of pre- and post-FaceMaze measures show improvements in perception of dynamic expressions. Analysis of expression production quality is hypothesized to show significant improvements after training, as seen in related literature. Improvements in facial expression quality results in better communication of emotions, further social successes, and improved interpersonal relationships.



(NSF Highlight 2015-2016)