Brief Report: Atypical Social Cognition and Social Behaviours in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Different Way of Processing Rather than an Impairment
A central question to autism research is whether autism is largely the result of an impairment in social cognition and/or motivation or the result of a more general processing difference. This review discusses problems with the “social deficit” model of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It is suggested that superior attention to low-level perceptual information potentially coupled with decreased attention to global information may provide a more comprehensive explanation for atypical social behaviours in ASD. This processing style may reflect increased activation of occipital-temporal regions and reduced functional (and possibly anatomical) connectivity. It is concluded that atypical social behaviours in ASD are more likely to be a consequence reflective of a general processing difference than impairment in social cognition and/or motivation.