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Stefania S. Moro, Adam A. Ghemraoui, Jennifer K.E Steeves; No Colavita effect: Lack of visual dominance in people with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):1038. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/12.9.1038.
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Previous research has shown that individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may perceive the world differently. Superior performance has been demonstrated on perceptual tasks involving detail recognition and visual search; however, deficits have also been demonstrated in tasks such as motion perception and attentional shifting. We investigated whether participants with ASD demonstrate typical visual dominance when presented with an audio-visual event. The current experiments measure speeded detection and discrimination of auditory, visual and audiovisual targets presented as a stream of paired familiar objects and sounds in people with ASD and typically developing controls. We found that all participants were equally able to detect the presence of auditory, visual or bimodal targets. However, when asked to discriminate between the unimodal and bimodal targets the control group demonstrated preferential processing of visual over auditory information with the bimodal stimuli -- the Colavita visual dominance effect. Moreover, participants with ASD, showed no Colavita effect and demonstrated a preference of auditory stimuli compared to visual stimuli or rather, a reverse Colavita effect. This suggests an absence of the typical visual dominance and instead auditory dominance. These results may be due to difficulties associated with integrating information into higher levels of processing. These findings indicate a difference in perceptual processing that may contribute to social communication impairments associated with autism spectrum disorder.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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