A Developmental Perspective of Global and Local Visual Perception in Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Jacalyn Guy
  • Laurent Mottron
  • Claude Berthiaume
  • Armando Bertone
Original Paper


Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) demonstrate superior performances on visuo-spatial tasks emphasizing local information processing; however, findings from studies involving hierarchical stimuli are inconsistent. Wide age ranges and group means complicate their interpretability. Children and adolescents with and without ASD completed a Navon task wherein they identified global and local stimuli composed of either consistent or inconsistent letters. Trajectories of reaction time in global and local conditions were similar within and between groups when consistent and inconsistent stimuli were considered together, but the effect of local-to-global interference was significantly higher in participants with than without ASD. Age was not a significant predictor of local-to-global interference, suggesting that this effect emerges in childhood and persists throughout adolescence in ASD.


Autism spectrum disorder Perception Vision Development Global and local processing Interference 



This research was supported by Fonds de Recherche du Québec-Santé (FRQS), Autism Research Training and NeuroDevNet doctoral fellowships awarded to J. G. and a FRQS Research Scholar Award to A. B. We thank Vanessa Bao, Sabrina Censi, and Domenico Tullo for their assistance with data collection. We also gratefully acknowledge all participants and families who gave their time to this study.

Author Contributions

J. G. and A. B. conceptualized the study design and programmed the computerized tasks. J. G. conducted the data collection, performed the statistical analyses and interpretation, and drafted the manuscript. C. B. assisted with the statistical analysis and data interpretation. L. M., C. B., and A. B. critically revised the manuscript. All authors also provided feedback and approved the final version of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10803_2016_2834_MOESM1_ESM.docx (339 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 338 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacalyn Guy
    • 1
    • 2
  • Laurent Mottron
    • 3
  • Claude Berthiaume
    • 3
  • Armando Bertone
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Perceptual Neuroscience Laboratory for Autism and DevelopmentMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Integrated Program in NeuroscienceMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Centre d’excellence en Troubles envahissants du développement de l’Université de Montréal (CETEDUM)Hôpital Rivière-des-PrairiesMontrealCanada
  4. 4.School/Applied Child Psychology, Department of Educational and Counseling PsychologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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