Brief Report

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 532-538

Brief Report: Face Configuration Accuracy and Processing Speed Among Adults with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Susan FajaAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Center on Human Development and Disability, University of Washington Autism Center
  • , Sara Jane WebbAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Center on Human Development and Disability, University of Washington Autism Center Email author 
  • , Kristen MerkleAffiliated withCenter on Human Development and Disability, University of Washington Autism CenterVanderbilt University
  • , Elizabeth AylwardAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology, Center on Human Development and Disability, University of Washington Autism Center
  • , Geraldine DawsonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Center on Human Development and Disability, University of Washington Autism CenterDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Center on Human Development and Disability, University of Washington Autism CenterAutism Speaks

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Abstract

The present study investigates the accuracy and speed of face processing employed by high-functioning adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Two behavioral experiments measured sensitivity to distances between features and face recognition when performance depended on holistic versus featural information. Results suggest adults with ASD were less accurate, but responded as quickly as controls for both tasks. In contrast to previous findings with children, adults with ASD demonstrated a holistic advantage only when the eye region was tested. Both groups recognized large manipulations to second-order relations more accurately than no change or small changes, but controls responded more quickly than participants with ASD when recognizing these large manipulations to configural information.

Keywords

Social cognition Configural processing Holistic processing High functioning autism Asperger’s disorder