Attachment and Emotion Processing in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Neurobiological, Neuroendocrine, and Neurocognitive Considerations

Carmel S. Sivaratnam, Louise K. Newman, Bruce J. Tonge, Nicole J. Rinehart

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The understanding, expression, and regulation of emotion have been identified as core to everyday communication and psychosocial adjustment in children. The aim of this paper is to review and to compare current clinical and empirical knowledge on emotion recognition, reciprocity, and expression deficits in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The paper reviews current neurobiological, neuroendocrine, and neurocognitive explanations for the emotion-processing deficits seen in ASD, while considering the potential influence of attachment on the presentation of emotion-processing deficits seen in this disorder, which is characterised by organic emotion-processing deficits. This review adopts a multi-disciplinary approach, proposing that in order to further compound the established organic explanations for emotion-processing deficits in ASD, more investigations are warranted to delineate the specific impact that attachment orientations have on the inability to appropriately recognise and regulate emotion in this disorder. Further research is required to improve our understanding of the neural processes which underlie emotion-processing abilities in the context of parent–child developmental factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-242
Number of pages21
JournalReview Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015


  • Attachment
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Emotion processing
  • Theory of mind

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