Use of face masks is one of the measures adopted by the general community to stop the transmission of disease during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This wide use of face masks has indeed been shown to disrupt day-to-day face recognition. People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have predisposed impairment in face recognition and are expected to be more vulnerable to this disruption in face recognition. Here, we recruited typically developing adult participants and those with ASD, and we measured their non-verbal intelligence, autism spectrum quotient, empathy quotient, and recognition performances of faces with and without a face mask covering the lower halves of the face. When faces were initially learned unobstructed, we showed that participants had a general reduced face recognition performance for masked faces. In contrast, when masked faces were first learned, typically developing adults benefit with an overall advantage in recognizing both masked and unmasked faces; while adults with ASD recognized unmasked faces with a significantly more reduced level of performance than masked faces—this face recognition discrepancy is predicted by a higher level of autistic traits. This paper also discusses how autistic traits influence processing of faces with and without face masks. Copyright © 2022 The Author(s).
CitationTso, R. V., Chui, C. O., & Hsiao, J. H. (2022). How does face mask in COVID-19 pandemic disrupt face learning and recognition in adults with autism spectrum disorder? Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 7. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1186/s41235-022-00407-4
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Face masks
- Face recognition