Emotional Language

About the Study 

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand how other people are feeling, and feelings can be conveyed through non-verbal cues (like faces) as well as through language. Understanding other’s emotions is critical for interacting with our parents, siblings, and peers, and also helps foster and nurture these relationships. Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) often struggle with social relationships, and while research suggests that this may be partially due to difficulties with processing emotions, there is evidence that understanding language is a relative strength in autism. 

The primary goal of this research is to study the emotion processing in typical individuals and individuals with autism.  The study involves two types of testing:  behavioral assessments and brain imaging.  For the behavioral tasks, you will work alongside a researcher to complete portions of standardized assessments (e.g., an IQ test).  These tasks may take about 2 hours.  During the brain scan, you will be asked to view pictures and listen to short stories; some tasks require a true or false response.  The scan lasts about 1 ¼ hours.  Testing can be completed in one sitting or split into two sessions depending on participant needs.


Typically developing participants will receive $10 for the behavioral assessments and $50 for the brain scan. 

Participants with autism will receive $30 for the behavioral assessments and $50 for the brain scan. You will also receive an image of your brain.

Participation Requirements 

Typical controls:

  • 15 – 30 years of age
  • Native speaker of English
  • Free of any bodily metal (e.g., metal implants, permanent retainers)
  • No history of drug abuse
  • No known neurological conditions (e.g., seizure disorders, brain injury)
  • Not claustrophobic
  • No hearing disorders
  • Normal (or corrected to normal) vision (wear contact lenses if they are necessary to read without glasses

Individuals with autism:  In addition to the requirements above,

  • Diagnosis of autism or Asperger’s syndrome (made by a licensed psychologist or qualified medical professional)

Interested and/or have questions? 

If you have questions or would like to participate in this study, please contact Lesley Sand at emotion.lang@gmail.com.


To particpiate in this study, please fill out the Volunteer Form and check the box for Emotional Language.

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