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. 2014 Jul 4;4:5475.
doi: 10.1038/srep05475.

An Early Origin for Detailed Perception in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Biased Sensitivity for High-Spatial Frequency Information

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Free PMC article

An Early Origin for Detailed Perception in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Biased Sensitivity for High-Spatial Frequency Information

Luc Kéïta et al. Sci Rep. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Autistics demonstrate superior performances on several visuo-spatial tasks where local or detailed information processing is advantageous. Altered spatial filtering properties at an early level of visuo-spatial analysis may be a plausible perceptual origin for such detailed perception in Autism Spectrum Disorder. In this study, contrast sensitivity for both luminance and texture-defined vertically-oriented sine-wave gratings were measured across a range of spatial frequencies (0.5, 1, 2, 4 & 8 cpd) for autistics and non-autistic participants. Contrast sensitivity functions and peak frequency ratios were plotted and compared across groups. Results demonstrated that autistic participants were more sensitivity to luminance-defined, high spatial frequency gratings (8 cpd). A group difference in peak distribution was also observed as 35% of autistic participants manifested peak sensitivity for luminance-defined gratings of 4 cpd, compared to only 7% for the comparison group. These findings support that locally-biased perception in Autism Spectrum Disorder originates, at least in part, from differences in response properties of early spatial mechanisms favouring detailed spatial information processing.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1. Sample of stimuli used in the present study: vertically-oriented gratings defined by luminance-contrast without (A) and with noise (B), and texture contrast (C).
Figure 2
Figure 2. Mean sensitivity for control (solid line) and autism (dashed line) groups as a function of spatial frequency for the luminance, no noise condition.
Figure 3
Figure 3. The sensitivity of individual participants in both control (left) and autism (right) groups for the luminance, no noise and noise conditions (bottom) as a function of spatial frequency.
Figure 4
Figure 4. Normalized mean sensitivity measures for control (solid line) and autism groups (dashed line) as a function of spatial frequency for luminance, no noise condition.
Figure 5
Figure 5. Percentage control (white bars) and autism (black bars) participants with peak sensitivity as a function of spatial frequency for luminance, no noise condition.

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