August 2014
Volume 14, Issue 10
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2014
A reciprocal model of face recognition and the autism condition: Evidence from an individual differences perspective
Author Affiliations
  • James Tanaka
    Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, British Columbia
  • Drew Halliday
    Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, British Columbia
  • Stuart MacDonald
    Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, British Columbia
  • Suzanne Scherf
    Department of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University
Journal of Vision August 2014, Vol.14, 1443. doi:10.1167/14.10.1443
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      James Tanaka, Drew Halliday, Stuart MacDonald, Suzanne Scherf; A reciprocal model of face recognition and the autism condition: Evidence from an individual differences perspective . Journal of Vision 2014;14(10):1443. doi: 10.1167/14.10.1443.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

Although autism spectrum disorder is defined by deficits in communication and social interactions, displays of repetitive stereotypic behaviours and expressions of restricted interests, a large body of evidence has shown that individuals with autism are also selectively impaired in their face processing abilities. Importantly, the connection between autistic traits and face perception has rarely been examined within the typically developing population. In this study, university participants from the social sciences, sciences, and humanities completed a battery of measures that assessed face, object and emotion recognition abilities, general perceptual-cognitive style, and sub-clinical autistic traits (the Autism Quotient (AQ)). Significant correlations were found between AQ scores, and face recognition, gender and science and non-science majors. A hierarchical multiple regression analysis showed that gender, object recognition and AQ scores reliably predicted performance on the face recognition measure, such that males and individuals with autistic-like characteristics, and those with lower object recognition scores performed more poorly on the face recognition test. Conversely, major, gender and face recognition reliably predicted scores on the AQ measure, such that science majors, males, and individuals with poor face recognition skills showed a higher degree of autistic-like traits. Consistent with recent claims, these results support the notion that impaired face recognition abilities may contribute to the key social deficits seen in autism. These findings have important implications for developing Autism interventions focusing on face processing skills.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2014

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