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Basic Emotion Recognition Interactive Software
Ages: 4-12   Grades: PreK-7

Use this unique software to develop fast and accurate recognition of emotional expressions.  This program isolates the key elements of facial expression and progresses to recognition of basic emotions in social contexts. 


  • Recognize these emotions: happiness, sadness, surprise, anger, and fear
  • Detect how others feel and react appropriately
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Students analyze and identify these basic emotions:

  • happiness
  • sadness
  • fear
  • surprise
  • anger

Innovative features in the software give pivotal learning supports:

  • a limited number of models are used 
  • emotions are presented repetitively
  • emotion recognition is taught in a hierarchy of modalities
  • unlimited number of repetitions solidifies learning
  • two levels of difficulty

Level 1: Isolated Emotions Instruction and Practice

Each emotion is taught in isolation.  After initial instruction, students identify the basic emotion in a hierarchy of modalities:    

  • still photos
  • audio narration
  • animations
  • brief videos

Practice items are straightforward and non-ambiguous so the target emotion can be clearly determined.  For example, if the student is asked to select "happy," foils do not include "surprised," as both can have similar emotional connotations.  The multiple-choice tasks progress in this difficulty:

1.  Choose the target emotion from two pictures of the same model.

2.  Choose the target emotion from three pictures of the same model.

3.  Choose the target emotion from pictures of three different models.

Level 2: Mixed Emotions

There are eight different tasks.  Responses include:

  • selecting a word to complete a sentence
  • selecting a picture that expresses a particular emotion
  • answering yes/no questions

In the first three tasks, emotions are identified in a group (vs. the isolated presentation of emotions in Level 1).  The last five tasks require students to determine appropriate emotions expressed given a specific situation or social context. 

Practice items contain some ambiguities and nuances in interpretation.  For example, emotions with similar facial features may be grouped together.  Students must distinguish "surprised" from "happy," based on the most appropriate and logical response to the given context.


The CD-ROM includes these extra resources:

  • reproducible flash cards of all the individual photos and drawings from the program 
  • printable data collection form  

Copyright © 2011

CD-ROM, instructions, printable flash cards
  • For students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), explicit instructions to attend to facial expression and tone of voice can elicit increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, part of the key network for understanding others' intentions (Wang, Lee, Sigman, & Dapretto, 2007).
  • Children with ASD need approaches that focus on social functioning.  These approaches should be introduced as ongoing intervention strategies from early years to adulthood (Taylor-Goh, 2005).
  • Children with ASD scored lower on a computerized measure of facial recognition than neurotypical peers.  Children with ASD often mislabeled any ambiguous facial expression as a negative emotion.  Children with ASD also had a tendency to label all negative emotions as angry.  Thus, children with ASD need explicit instruction in emotion recognition (Kuusikko, 2009).
  • Computer-assisted instruction (CAI) has a positive effect on the learning process of young children who learn better with pictures and sounds (Vernadakis, Avgerinos, Tsiskari, & Zachopoulou, 2005).

Basic Emotion Recognition Interactive Software incorporates these principles and is also based on expert professional practice.


Kuusikko, S., et al. (2009). Emotion recognition in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders, 39, 938-945.

Taylor-Goh, S. (2005). Royal college of speech & language therapists: Clinical guidelines. United Kingdom: Speechmark.

Vernadakis, N., Avgerinos, A., Tsiskari, E., & Zachopoulou, E. (2005). The use of computer assisted instruction in preschool education: Making teaching meaningful. Early Childhood Education Journal, 33(2), 99-104.

Wang, A.T., Lee, S.S., Sigman, M., & Dapretto, M. (2007). Reading affect in the face and voice: Neural correlates of interpreting communicative intent in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 64, 698-708.



Minimum System Requirements


  • Windows XP or later
  • 512MB
  • 1024 x 768 Screen Resolution


  • Not available for the MAC
Program will be installed onto the Hard Drive.
Compatible with SMART Board that emulates a mouse.