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Collinear facilitation and contour integration in autism: evidence for atypical visual integration

By Stephen eJachim, Paul A Warren, Niall eMcloughlin and Emma eGowen

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, atypical communication and a restricted repertoire of interests and activities. Altered sensory and perceptual experiences are also common, and a notable perceptual difference between individuals with ASD and controls is their superior performance in visual tasks where it may be beneficial to ignore global context. This superiority may be the result of atypical integrative processing. To explore this claim we investigated visual integration in adults with ASD (diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome) using two psychophysical tasks thought to rely on integrative processing - collinear facilitation and contour integration. We measured collinear facilitation at different flanker orientation offsets and contour integration for both open and closed contours. Our results indicate that compared to matched controls, ASD participants show (i) reduced collinear facilitation, despite equivalent performance without flankers and (ii) less benefit from closed contours in contour integration. These results indicate weaker visuospatial integration in adults with ASD and suggest that further studies using these types of paradigms would provide knowledge on how contextual processing is altered in ASD

Topics: autism, contour integration, collinear facilitation, Weak Central Coherence, Enhanced perceptual functioning
Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.
Year: 2015
DOI identifier: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00115
OAI identifier: oai:doaj.org/article:4f97a2c6926a4e278d76ff5aa43c9db1
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