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Brief Report: Autism-like Traits are Associated With Enhanced Ability to Disembed Visual Forms

Abstract

Atypical visual perceptual skills are thought to underlie unusual visual attention in autism spectrum disorders. We assessed whether individual differences in visual processing skills scaled with quantitative traits associated with the broader autism phenotype (BAP). Visual perception was assessed using the Figure-ground subtest of the Test of visual perceptual skills-3rd Edition (TVPS). In a large adult cohort (n = 209), TVPS-Figure Ground scores were positively correlated with autistic-like social features as assessed by the Broader autism phenotype questionnaire. This relationship was gender-specific, with males showing a correspondence between visual perceptual skills and autistic-like traits. This work supports the link between atypical visual perception and autism and highlights the importance in characterizing meaningful individual differences in clinically relevant behavioral phenotypes.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the individuals who participated in this study. We would also like to acknowledge Kayleigh M. Adamson, BS for her assistance with the collection of this data.

Author Contributions

ASD and VT designed the research. ASD analyzed the data with guidance from VT. ASD and VT interpreted the data. ASD drafted the manuscript. ASD and VT critically revised the manuscript. All authors have read, reviewed, and approved the final version of the manuscript.

Funding

This study was funded by the Simons Foundation, SFARI Explorer Award #350225.

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Correspondence to Antoinette Sabatino DiCriscio.

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The author A S DiCriscio and V Troiani declares that they have no conflicts of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Sabatino DiCriscio, A., Troiani, V. Brief Report: Autism-like Traits are Associated With Enhanced Ability to Disembed Visual Forms. J Autism Dev Disord 47, 1568–1576 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-017-3053-0

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Keywords

  • Broader autism phenotype
  • Visual attention
  • Perception
  • Individual differences
  • Gender differences
  • Figure-ground discrimination