Documenta Ophthalmologica

, Volume 125, Issue 3, pp 219–227 | Cite as

Motion and pattern cortical potentials in adults with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder

  • Paul A. Constable
  • Sebastian B. Gaigg
  • Dermot M. Bowler
  • Dorothy A. Thompson
Original Research Article



Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition in which visual perception to both static and moving stimuli is altered. The aim of this study was to investigate the early cortical responses of subjects with ASD to simple patterns and moving radial rings using visual evoked potentials (VEPs).


Male ASD participants (n = 9) and typically developing (TD) individuals (n = 7) were matched for full, performance and verbal IQ (p > 0.263). VEPs were recorded to the pattern reversing checks of 50′ side length presented with Michelson contrasts of 98 and 10 % and to the onset of motion—either expansion or contraction of low-contrast concentric rings (33.3 % duty cycle at 10 % contrast).


There were no significant differences between groups in the VEPs elicited by pattern reversal checkerboards of high (98 %) or low (10 %) contrast. The ASD group had a significantly larger N160 peak (1.85 x) amplitude to motion onset VEPs elicited by the expansion of radial rings (p = 0.001). No differences were evident in contraction VEP peak amplitudes nor in the latencies of the motion onset N160 peaks. There was no evidence of a response that could be associated with adaptation to the motion stimulus in the interstimulus interval following an expansion or contraction phase of the rings.


These data support a difference in processing of motion onset stimuli in this adult high-functioning ASD group compared to the TD group.


Autism spectrum disorder Motion onset Pattern reversal VEPs Contrast 



This work was funded by the College of Optometrists UK. The author (PAC) is a College of Optometrists Research Fellowship. Parts of this work were presented at ISCEV 2011, Quebec. We would thank the participants for their time whilst carrying out this study. We would like to thank Dr Alki Liasis and Dr Say Soriano for advice on MRI segmentation and field analysis. Thank you to the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions on this manuscript.

Conflict of interest

The author declares no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul A. Constable
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sebastian B. Gaigg
    • 2
  • Dermot M. Bowler
    • 2
  • Dorothy A. Thompson
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of OptometryCity University LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyCity University London, Autism Research GroupLondonUK
  3. 3.Clinical and Academic Department of OphthalmologyGreat Ormond Street Hospital for ChildrenLondonUK

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