August 2023
Volume 23, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2023
Weaker face recognition in adults with autism arises from perceptually based alterations
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Marissa Hartston
    University of Haifa
  • Yoni Pertzov
    The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Galia Avidan
    Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
  • Bat-Sheva Hadad
    University of Haifa
  • Footnotes
    Acknowledgements  This research was funded by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF), grant #882/19 to BH.
Journal of Vision August 2023, Vol.23, 5243. doi:
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      Marissa Hartston, Yoni Pertzov, Galia Avidan, Bat-Sheva Hadad; Weaker face recognition in adults with autism arises from perceptually based alterations. Journal of Vision 2023;23(9):5243.

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

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Face recognition has been shown to be impaired in autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). However, it is still debated whether face processing deficits in autism arise from perceptually based alterations. We tested individuals with ASD and matched typically developing (TD) individuals using a delayed estimation task in which a single target face was shown either upright or inverted. Participants selected a face that best resembled the target face out of a cyclic space of morphed faces. To enable the disentanglement of visual from mnemonic processing, reports were required either following a 1 and 6 second retention interval, or simultaneously while the target face was still visible. Individuals with ASD made significantly more errors than TD in both the simultaneous and delayed intervals, indicating that face recognition deficits in autism are also perceptual rather than strictly memory based. Moreover, individuals with ASD exhibited weaker inversion effect than TD individuals, on all retention intervals. This finding, that was mostly evident in precision errors, suggests that contrary to the more precise representations of upright faces in TD, individuals with ASD exhibit similar levels of precision for both inverted and upright faces. These results suggest that weakened memory for faces reported in ASD may be secondary to the underlying deficit in face processing.


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