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The framework for disturbed affective consciousness in autism

Authors Khetrapal N

Published 6 June 2008 Volume 2008:4(3) Pages 531—533


Neha Khetrapal

Centre for Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences, University of Allahabad, Allahabad, India

Abstract: The current article explores the implication of the interaction of emotion and consciousness for autism. The framework that is proposed for the disorder explains that the compromised functional integrity of the amygdala is the root cause of disturbed affective consciousness. Amygdala, with its connections to various cortical and subcortical regions, helps detect a fearful facial expression at the attentional periphery and make it the focus of attention and awareness for enhanced processing. The conscious life of autistics with respect to affective objects can thus be very different from that of normal people, which leads them to perceive the world differently. They process fearful stimuli the way normal controls perceive common objects by activating areas responsible for feature based analysis rather than the amygdala and other connected areas. Conscious perception of such stimuli is important for appropriate development of emotion concepts, something that autistics lack, thus leading to impairment in the awareness of one’s own emotions especially within the negative spectrum with a prominent position for fearful stimuli. Thus the interaction of emotion with consciousness is ripe for investigation and can help to throw light on the mental life of autistics.

Keywords: emotion, amygdala, visual awareness, fear processing

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