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No evidence for a fundamental visual motion processing deficit in adolescents with autism spectrum disorders

Jones, Catherine RG and Swettenham, John and Charman, Tony and Marsden, Anita JS and Tregay, Jenifer and Baird, Gillian and Simonoff, Emily and Happé, Francesca (2011) 'No evidence for a fundamental visual motion processing deficit in adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.' Autism Research, 4 (5). pp. 347-357. ISSN 1939-3792

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It has been suggested that atypicalities in low-level visual processing contribute to the expression and development of the unusual cognitive and behavioral profile seen in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). However, previous investigations have yielded mixed results. In the largest study of its kind (ASD n = 89; non-ASD = 52; mean age 15 years 6 months) and testing across the spectrum of IQ (range 52–133), we investigated performance on three measures of basic visual processing: motion coherence, form-from-motion and biological motion (BM). At the group level, we found no evidence of differences between the two groups on any of the tasks, suggesting that there is no fundamental visual motion processing deficit in individuals with an ASD, at least by adolescence. However, we identified a tail of individuals with ASD (18% of the sample) who had exceptionally poor BM processing abilities compared to the non-ASD group, and who were characterized by low IQ. For the entire sample of those both with and without ASD, performance on the BM task uniquely correlated with performance on the Frith–Happé animations, a higher-level task that demands the interpretation of moving, interacting agents in order to understand mental states. We hypothesize that this association reflects the shared social–cognitive characteristics of the two tasks, which have a common neural underpinning in the superior temporal sulcus.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: motion coherence; form-from-motion; biological motion; point light display; mentalizing; theory of mind; autism spectrum disorders
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2011 13:48
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:34

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