A study of perceptual analysis in a high-level autistic subject with exceptional graphic abilities

Brain Cogn. 1993 Nov;23(2):279-309. doi: 10.1006/brcg.1993.1060.


We report here the case study of a patient (E.C.) with an Asperger syndrome, or autism with quasinormal intelligence, who shows an outstanding ability for three-dimensional drawing of inanimate objects (savant syndrome). An assessment of the subsystems proposed in recent models of object recognition evidenced intact perceptual analysis and identification. The initial (or primal sketch), viewer-centered (or 2-1/2-D), or object-centered (3-D) representations and the recognition and name levels were functional. In contrast, E.C.'s pattern of performance in three different types of tasks converge to suggest an anomaly in the hierarchical organization of the local and global parts of a figure: a local interference effect in incongruent hierarchical visual stimuli, a deficit in relating local parts to global form information in impossible figures, and an absence of feature-grouping in graphic recall. The results are discussed in relation to normal visual perception and to current accounts of the savant syndrome in autism.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autistic Disorder / complications
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / complications
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Projective Techniques*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Visual Perception