High motion coherence thresholds in children with autism

J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2002 Feb;43(2):255-63. doi: 10.1111/1469-7610.00018.


Background: We assessed motion processing in a group of high functioning children with autism and a group of typically developing children, using a coherent motion detection task.

Method: Twenty-five children with autism (mean age 11 years, 8 months) and 22 typically developing children matched for non-verbal mental ability and chronological age were required to detect the direction of moving dots in a random dot kinematogram.

Results: The group of children with autism showed significantly higher motion coherence thresholds than the typically developing children (i.e., they showed an impaired ability to detect coherent motion).

Conclusions: This finding suggests that some individuals with autism may show impairments in low-level visual processing--specifically in the magnocellular visual pathway. The findings are discussed in terms of implications for higher-level cognitive theories of autism, and the suggestion is made that more work needs to be carried out to further investigate low-level visual processing in autism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology
  • Child
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motion Perception*
  • Orientation*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Reference Values
  • Sensory Thresholds