Article

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 27-43

Enhanced Perceptual Functioning in Autism: An Update, and Eight Principles of Autistic Perception

  • Laurent MottronAffiliated withPervasive Developmental Disorders Specialized Clinic, Rivière-des-Prairies Hospital, & Fernand Seguin Research Center, University of MontréalDepartment of Psychiatry, University of MontréalHôpital Rivière-des-Prairies Email author 
  • , Michelle DawsonAffiliated withPervasive Developmental Disorders Specialized Clinic, Rivière-des-Prairies Hospital, & Fernand Seguin Research Center, University of Montréal
  • , Isabelle SoulièresAffiliated withPervasive Developmental Disorders Specialized Clinic, Rivière-des-Prairies Hospital, & Fernand Seguin Research Center, University of MontréalDépartment of Psychology, University of Montréal
  • , Benedicte HubertAffiliated withPervasive Developmental Disorders Specialized Clinic, Rivière-des-Prairies Hospital, & Fernand Seguin Research Center, University of MontréalUniversité de Provence-Côte d’Azur
  • , Jake BurackAffiliated withPervasive Developmental Disorders Specialized Clinic, Rivière-des-Prairies Hospital, & Fernand Seguin Research Center, University of MontréalDepartment of Educational Psychology, McGill University

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We propose an “Enhanced Perceptual Functioning” model encompassing the main differences between autistic and non-autistic social and non-social perceptual processing: locally oriented visual and auditory perception, enhanced low-level discrimination, use of a more posterior network in “complex” visual tasks, enhanced perception of first order static stimuli, diminished perception of complex movement, autonomy of low-level information processing toward higher-order operations, and differential relation between perception and general intelligence. Increased perceptual expertise may be implicated in the choice of special ability in savant autistics, and in the variability of apparent presentations within PDD (autism with and without typical speech, Asperger syndrome) in non-savant autistics. The overfunctioning of brain regions typically involved in primary perceptual functions may explain the autistic perceptual endophenotype.

Keywords

Perception enhanced perceptual functioning autism Asperger syndrome expertise savant syndrome local and global processing fMRI