Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 44, Issue 6, pp 1433–1446 | Cite as

Right Temporoparietal Gray Matter Predicts Accuracy of Social Perception in the Autism Spectrum

  • Nicole David
  • Johannes Schultz
  • Elizabeth Milne
  • Odette Schunke
  • Daniel Schöttle
  • Alexander Münchau
  • Markus Siegel
  • Kai Vogeley
  • Andreas K. Engel
Original Paper


Individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show hallmark deficits in social perception. These difficulties might also reflect fundamental deficits in integrating visual signals. We contrasted predictions of a social perception and a spatial–temporal integration deficit account. Participants with ASD and matched controls performed two tasks: the first required spatiotemporal integration of global motion signals without social meaning, the second required processing of socially relevant local motion. The ASD group only showed differences to controls in social motion evaluation. In addition, gray matter volume in the temporal–parietal junction correlated positively with accuracy in social motion perception in the ASD group. Our findings suggest that social–perceptual difficulties in ASD cannot be reduced to deficits in spatial–temporal integration.


Autism Asperger syndrome Motion coherence Animacy Social perception Voxel-based morphometry 



We especially would like to thank all volunteers who participated in this study. Furthermore, we thank C. Reissmann, K. Deazle and A. Daniel for help with recruitment and data assessment, J. Hipp and T.R. Schneider for help with motion coherence task, and I. Peiker for statistical advice. This work was supported by the European Union (HEALTH-F2-2008-200728, ERC-2010-AdG-269716, FP7-ICT-270212). N.D. was supported by a fellowship of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DA 1358/1-1). J.S. was supported by the Max Planck Society. K.V. was supported by the German Ministry of Research and Education (01 GW 0611). D.S. was supported in part by Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF 0737/114). O.S. was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG Grant MU1692/2-1).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole David
    • 1
  • Johannes Schultz
    • 2
    • 3
  • Elizabeth Milne
    • 4
  • Odette Schunke
    • 5
  • Daniel Schöttle
    • 6
  • Alexander Münchau
    • 5
    • 7
  • Markus Siegel
    • 8
  • Kai Vogeley
    • 9
    • 10
  • Andreas K. Engel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Neurophysiology and PathophysiologyUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyDurham UniversityDurhamUK
  3. 3.Max Planck Institute for Biological CyberneticsTübingenGermany
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of SheffieldSheffield, South YorkshireUK
  5. 5.Department of NeurologyUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  6. 6.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  7. 7.Division of Clinical and Molecular Neurogenetics, Department of NeurologyUniversity of LübeckLübeckGermany
  8. 8.Centre for Integrative NeuroscienceUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany
  9. 9.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyUniversity of CologneCologneGermany
  10. 10.Cognitive Neurology Section, Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM3)Research Center JuelichJülichGermany

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