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Review
. 2013 Feb;37(2):209-28.
doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2012.11.016. Epub 2012 Dec 5.

Veridical Mapping in the Development of Exceptional Autistic Abilities

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Review

Veridical Mapping in the Development of Exceptional Autistic Abilities

Laurent Mottron et al. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. .

Abstract

Superior perception, peaks of ability, and savant skills are often observed in the autistic phenotype. The enhanced perceptual functioning model (Mottron et al., 2006a) emphasizes the increased role and autonomy of perceptual information processing in autistic cognition. Autistic abilities also involve enhanced pattern detection, which may develop through veridical mapping across isomorphic perceptual and non-perceptual structures (Mottron et al., 2009). In this paper, we elaborate veridical mapping as a specific mechanism which can explain the higher incidence of savant abilities, as well as other related phenomena, in autism. We contend that savant abilities such as hyperlexia, but also absolute pitch and synaesthesia, involve similar neurocognitive components, share the same structure and developmental course, and represent related ways by which the perceptual brain deals with objective structures under different conditions. Plausibly, these apparently different phenomena develop through a veridical mapping mechanism whereby perceptual information is coupled with homological data drawn from within or across isomorphic structures. The atypical neural connectivity characteristic of autism is consistent with a developmental predisposition to veridical mapping and the resulting high prevalence of savant abilities, absolute pitch, and synaesthesia in autism.

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