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Jacalyn Guy, Karine Morin, Claudine Habak, Hugh R. Wilson, Laurent Mottron, Armando Bertone; Face Perception in School-Aged Children with Autism: A Look at Visual Processing Strategies. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):1354. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/12.9.1354.
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Introduction: Atypical processing of face information has been associated with the social differences that characterize autism. One prominent hypothesis suggests that the unique, detail-oriented visual processing style used by autistic individuals may negatively affect their ability to identify faces when a global analysis is optimal, such as when faces are presented from different viewpoints. Assessing face identification abilities across ages and viewpoint is therefore important in understanding how and when differences in such abilities emerge between autism and typical development. The objective of the present study is to assess the face identity discrimination abilities of school-aged participants with and without autism in a view specific manner, where access to local face attributes is available (same view) or minimized (different views). Methods: Ten autistic and ten typically-developing school aged children matched for full-scale IQ and age (8 to 12 years) performed a two-alternative temporal forced choice, match to sample face identity discrimination task using synthetic, computer-generated face images (Wilson et al., 2002). Performance was measured using face identity discrimination thresholds for conditions where the target and choice faces were presented in the same view (front-front view) and in different views (front-side view). Results: Mean identity discrimination thresholds for the autistic group were higher for the viewpoint change condition (front-side view) when compared to the typically-developing group, which agrees with the findings from studies conducted in adults and adolescents with autism. No between-group differences were found for the same view condition. Conclusions: A decrease in performance for the viewpoint change condition, as indicated by higher mean identity discrimination thresholds, suggests that facial identity discrimination in school-aged children with autism may be more difficult when (i) access to local cues, such as individual facial features, is minimized, and/or (ii) increased dependence on a global, integrative analysis is introduced to the face task.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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