Significance of facial processing in autism re-evaluated

    THE idea that those with autism find faces harder to process than other visual stimuli has been challenged in a study by the University of Western Australia.

    Research published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, assessed face selectivity and face-processing difficulties in children and adolescents with and without autism.

    The team examined discrimination of, and memory for, faces, cars, and inverted faces.

    Overall, typically developing children and adolescents without autism performed better than young people with autism.

    However, all participants performed significantly worse with identifying pictures of inverted faces compared to upright faces and cars.

    Crucially, children and adolescents with autism found cars to be just as difficult to remember as upright faces.

    Previous studies have suggested that face perception is selectively, or disproportionately, affected in autism, and this is attributed to reduced social interest and motivation.

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