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. 2006 Jan;20(1):30-41.
doi: 10.1037/0894-4105.20.1.30.

Face Perception in High-Functioning Autistic Adults: Evidence for Superior Processing of Face Parts, Not for a Configural Face-Processing Deficit

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Face Perception in High-Functioning Autistic Adults: Evidence for Superior Processing of Face Parts, Not for a Configural Face-Processing Deficit

A Lahaie et al. Neuropsychology. .

Abstract

Configural processing in autism was studied in Experiment 1 by using the face inversion effect. A normal inversion effect was observed in the participants with autism, suggesting intact configural face processing. A priming paradigm using partial or complete faces served in Experiment 2 to assess both local and configural face processing. Overall, normal priming effects were found in participants with autism, irrespective of whether the partial face primes were intuitive face parts (i.e., eyes, nose, etc.) or arbitrary segments. An exception, however, was that participants with autism showed magnified priming with single face parts relative to typically developing control participants. The present findings argue for intact configural processing in autism along with an enhanced processing for individual face parts. The face-processing peculiarities known to characterize autism are discussed on the basis of these results and past congruent results with nonsocial stimuli.

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