The Broader Autism Phenotype and Visual Perception in Children
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Atypical visual perception has increasingly been described in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and linked to quantitative, autism-like features that are present in children and adults without ASD. We investigated whether individual differences in visual processing skills were related to quantitative measures of autism traits in a pediatric sample with a range of clinical features. Visual processing was comprehensively characterized using the test of visual perceptual skills (TVPS), a standardized test of visual perception with seven subtests that capture a range of visual processing abilities. The TVPS Figure Ground (TVPS-FG) subtest requires an individual to disembed a smaller figure from a larger scene. TVPS-FG subtest scores were positively correlated with children’s autism features as measured by a parental report of the Broader Autism Phenotype Questionnaire (BAP-Q). The correlation with BAP-Q was specific to the TVPS-FG subtest, as the other TVPS subtest scores were not significantly related to the BAP-Q. This adds to the growing body of research documenting that atypical visual processing is associated with the autism phenotype and highlights the importance of capturing quantitative traits in heterogeneous developmental brain disorders.
KeywordsBroader autism phenotype Visual perception TVPS Global–local processing Children
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.
ASD and VT designed the research. ASD collected the data. 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 and approved the final version of the manuscript. All authors reviewed the manuscript.
This study was funded by the Simons Foundation, SFARI Explorer Award #350225.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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