Perceptual Processing Among High-Functioning Persons With Autism

J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1999 Feb;40(2):203-11.


Two tasks were used to assess the processing of whole versus parts of objects in a group of high-functioning children and adolescents with autism (N = 11) and a comparison group of typically developing peers (N = 11) matched for chronological age and IQ. In the first task, only the children with autism showed a global advantage, and the two groups showed similar interference between levels. In the second task, the children with autism, despite longer RTs, showed similar performance to the comparison group with regard to the effect of goodness on visual parsing. Contrary to expectations based on the central coherence and hierarchisation deficit theories, these findings indicate intact holistic processing among persons with autism. The implications of these findings are discussed in relation to apparently discrepant evidence from other studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention / physiology
  • Autistic Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Perceptual Masking / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Volition / physiology
  • Wechsler Scales