Children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) experience persistent disrupted coordination in interpersonal synchronisation that is thought to be associated with deficits in neural connectivity. Robotic interventions have been explored for use with ASD children worldwide revealing that robots encourage one-to-one social and emotional interactions. However, associations between interpersonal synchronisation and emotional empathy have not yet been directly explored in French and Japanese ASD children when they interact with a human or a robot under analogous experimental conditions. Using the paradigm of actor-perceiver, where the child was the actor and the robot or the human the perceiver, we recorded the autonomic heart rate activation and reported emotional feelings of ASD children in both countries. Japanese and French ASD children showed different interpersonal synchronisation when they interacted with the human perceiver, even though the human was the same in both countries. However, they exhibited similar interpersonal synchronisation when the perceiver was the robot. The findings suggest that the mechanism combining interpersonal synchronisation and emotional empathy might be weakened but not absent in ASD children and that both French and Japanese ASD children do spontaneously and unconsciously discern non verbal actions of non human partners through a direct matching process that occurs via automatic mapping.
|Number of pages||10|
|Publication status||Published - 15 Oct 2020|