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Catherine Manning, Marc Tibber, Steven Dakin; Direction and orientation integration in autistic children. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):1103. doi: 10.1167/17.10.1103.
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Introduction: Vision in autistic people has been characterised as detail-focused, with a disinclination (or reduced ability) to integrate information into coherent "wholes". Yet, we recently demonstrated enhanced motion integration in autistic children (Manning et al., 2015, J Neurosci, 35(18), 6979-6986). Here, we investigated the robustness of our finding of increased motion integration in autism with a new sample of children, and determined whether increased integration would extend to a static, orientation judgement. Methods: We presented motion and orientation equivalent noise and coherence tasks to 46 autistic children aged 6 to 14 years and 45 typically developing children matched in age and non-verbal IQ. The equivalent noise tasks consisted of two interleaved conditions: a high-noise condition in which children judged the average direction or orientation of elements whose range of direction or orientations was manipulated, and a no-noise condition in which children judged the direction or orientation of identical elements. In the coherence tasks, the proportion of signal elements sharing the same direction or orientation amidst otherwise random noise elements was manipulated. Results: When combining motion data from this and the original experiment, autistic children exhibited superior integration of direction information in the high-noise condition compared to typically developing children (indexed by higher maximum tolerable noise values), yet had similar no-noise and coherence thresholds. Equivalent noise modelling of these data revealed increased sampling in autistic children for motion information but no conclusive evidence for atypical levels of internal noise. There was no evidence of differences between autistic and typically developing children in the orientation equivalent noise and coherence tasks. Conclusion: Overall, autistic children effectively integrate more direction information than typically developing children, notwithstanding considerable individual variability. There was no indication of atypical integration of orientation. These results call into question accounts of reduced integration in autistic perception.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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