Face perception develops similarly across viewpoint in children and adolescents with and without autism spectrum disorder

J Vis. 2017 Jan 1;17(1):38. doi: 10.1167/17.1.38.


Atypical face perception has been associated with the socio-communicative difficulties that characterize autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Growing evidence, however, suggests that a widespread impairment in face perception is not as common as once thought. One important issue arising with the interpretation of this literature is the relationship between face processing and a more general perceptual tendency to focus on local rather than global information. Previous work has demonstrated that when discriminating faces presented from the same view, older adolescents and adults with ASD perform similarly to typically developing individuals. When faces are presented from different views, however, they perform more poorly-specifically, when access to local cues is minimized. In this study, we assessed the cross-sectional development of face identity discrimination across viewpoint using same- and different-view conditions in children and adolescents with and without ASD. Contrary to the findings in adults, our results revealed that all participants experienced greater difficulty identifying faces from different views than from same views, and demonstrated similar age-expected improvements in performance across tasks. These results suggest that differences in face discrimination across views may only emerge beyond the age of 15 years in ASD.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cues
  • Facial Recognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male