ESPE Abstracts (2016) 86 FC6.6

Social Cognition Skills and Face Perception in Turner Syndrome (TS)

Vardit Gepsteina, David Anakib, Tal Zadikovb & Ze’ev Hochberga,c


aRuth Rappaport Children’s Hospital, Rambam Medical Center, Haifa, Israel; bDepartment of Psychology, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel; cRappaport Family Faculty of Medicine, Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel


Background: Patients with TS frequently demonstrate impairments in social cognition difficulties, visual-spatial processing, face and emotion perception.

Objective and hypotheses: We examined face perception in the context of perceptual visual dysfunctions and social cognition skills in TS.

Method: 26 young women with TS on estrogen replacement therapy, and 26 control participants. They were tested on various cognitive and psychological tests to assess general visual-spatial perception, face and emotion perception by Benton Facial Recognition Test, social cognition skills through emotion perception and Theory of Mind (ToM; false belief and recognition of faux pas tasks) and IQ (subtests from the WAIS-III).

Results: The group did not differ on verbal IQ (P=.78). Women with TS showed difficulties in performance IQ (Block Design subtest; P<0.05), and facial expression processing (P<0.005): they were less accurate than controls in perception for fear (P < .05) sad (P=.052) and disgust expressions, yet they exhibited normal face-specific processes (configural and holistic processing). Their social cognition capacities were largely intact, including auditory perception of surprise, anger and fear, and in False Belief Task (first-, second-order), Question Type (belief, reality, memory and reference) and faux pas stories. Describing scenes of animation, women with TS gave more interaction descriptions (P<.01), while control women gave more mentalizing descriptions than TS (P<.01). TS’ face perception impairments were related to their deficits in visual processing (P<0.01) but not to social cognition difficulties.

Conclusion: Our results do not support the claim that the impairment in face processing, observed in TS, is related to difficulties in social cognition. Their social cognition is compromised to some degree; yet, their relative verbal strength may compensate them wherever they can use their verbal capacities. The results suggest that face perception difficulties in TS stem from visual impairments and may not be specific to faces.

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