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Let's Face It! and CERT help autistic children


TDLC's Jim Tanaka (University of Victoria) and Marni Bartlett (UC San Diego's Machine Perception Lab) apply the LFI! Hierarchical Model of Facial Processing to better understand and improve the face processing skills of children with autism who sometimes struggle to recognize the identity and expression of a face. Following the model, the two teams designed the Let's Face It! computer program that guides the child through a series of exercises emphasizing attention to faces, recognition of facial identity and emotion and understanding the meaning of facial cues in a social context.

In a recent randomized clinical trial published in the Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology (Tanaka et al., 2010), Tanaka found that children who played the Let's Face It! program for a minimum of 20 hours showed small, but consistent gains in their ability to use eye information in face recognition.

TDLC's Jim Tanaka (University of Victoria) and Marni Bartlett (UC San Diego's Machine Perception Lab) have joined forces to develop a new state-of the-art intervention treatment. Using their state-of-the-art Computer Expression Recognition Toolbox, they have created interactive games that interpret facial expressions in real time via webcam input. In SmileMaze, for example, the player overcomes obstacles in a labyrinth by producing smiles that are registered on the Smile-o-Meter. In Face-Face-Revolution, the player mimics a facial expression in synchrony to a disco beat. With these technological innovations, the two teams hope to develop new treatments in autism that make the giant leap from the computer screen to the real world of social engagement.

Jim TanakaMarni Bartlett

TDLC’s Jim Tanaka and Marni Bartlett