Assessing the relationship between cognitive empathy, age, and face perception using a sequential Bayesian analysis


The ability to correctly identify emotions in social stimuli such as faces is proposed to affect one’s level of cognitive empathy. The Fusiform Face Area shows a heightened neural response during the perception of faces relative to objects. We tested whether neural responses to social stimuli were associated with performance in a measure of cognitive empathy, the ‘Reading the Mind in the Eyes’ Task. To quantify face perception, participants were presented with images during a fast serial presentation task which elicited a steady state visual evoked potential, measured using electroencephalography. A Sequential Bayesian Analysis was used to assess if face specific neural responses were associated with either cognitive empathy or age. Data were collected from a participant group of both neurotypical individuals and individuals on the autistic spectrum. We found no significant relationship between the face-specific neural signature, cognitive empathy or age. This study highlights the efficiency of the Sequential Bayesian Analysis as an effective method of participant recruitment.