September 2018
Volume 18, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2018
Higher levels of autistic traits are linked to poorer face recognition performance but not reduced adaptive coding in 6-8 year-old children
Author Affiliations
  • Linda Jeffery
    ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its DisordersSchool of Psychological Science, The University of Western Australia
  • Kate Crookes
    ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its DisordersSchool of Psychological Science, The University of Western Australia
  • Ellen Bothe
    ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its DisordersSchool of Psychological Science, The University of Western Australia
  • Marianne Thorburn
    School of Psychological Science, The University of Western Australia
  • Natalie Kaiko
    ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its DisordersSchool of Psychological Science, The University of Western Australia
  • Chloe Giffard
    ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its DisordersSchool of Psychological Science, The University of Western Australia
  • Romina Palermo
    ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its DisordersSchool of Psychological Science, The University of Western Australia
Journal of Vision September 2018, Vol.18, 921. doi:10.1167/18.10.921
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      Linda Jeffery, Kate Crookes, Ellen Bothe, Marianne Thorburn, Natalie Kaiko, Chloe Giffard, Romina Palermo; Higher levels of autistic traits are linked to poorer face recognition performance but not reduced adaptive coding in 6-8 year-old children. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):921. doi: 10.1167/18.10.921.

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

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Abstract

The ability to recognise people from their faces is very important for successful social interaction. Recognition of faces is impaired in individuals with autism and is also poorer in typical adults who report higher-levels of autistic traits on self-report questionnaires, such as the Autism Quotient (AQ). Likewise, adaptive, norm-based coding, a perceptual mechanism important for face recognition, is also attenuated in individuals with autism and typical male adults with higher autistic-traits. Here we asked whether associations between autistic traits and face recognition and adaptive coding are also present during development, when social experience is accumulating and performance on face tasks is improving. We tested 6-8 year-old children (N=163, 77 males) on a battery of tasks. Face memory was assessed with the Cambridge Face Memory Test–Kids and Dartmouth Face Perception Test and the Cambridge Bicycle Memory Test was included to calculate 'face-selective' residuals. Adaptive coding was measured with a face identity aftereffect task and the AQ-Child measured parent-reported autistic traits. Children who scored higher on the AQ-Child had poorer face-selective memory performance, after controlling for age and sex. The direction of the associations did not differ for boys and girls, though the association between autistic-traits and face-selective memory was significant only for boys. Neither adaptive coding or face-selective perception were associated with autistic traits. These results suggest that the association between autistic traits and face recognition ability emerges early in development, consistent with findings that children with autism have impaired face recognition skills. However, we found no evidence that weaker adaptive norm-based coding mediates this relationship in children, even for boys, suggesting that the relationship between autistic-traits and adaptive coding emerges later in development. Likewise, sex differences in the associations between face recognition, adaptive norm-based coding and autistic-traits may also emerge only later in development, possibly during adolescence.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018

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