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Reduced face aftereffects in autism are not due to poor attention

Ewing, L; Leach, K; Pellicano, E; Jeffery, L; Rhodes, G; (2013) Reduced face aftereffects in autism are not due to poor attention. PLOS One , 8 (11) , Article e81353. 10.1371/journal.pone.0081353. Green open access

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This study aimed to determine why face identity aftereffects are diminished in children with autism, relative to typical children. To address the possibility that reduced face aftereffects might reflect reduced attention to adapting stimuli, we investigated the consequence of controlling attention to adapting faces during a face identity aftereffect task in children with autism and typical children. We also included a size-change between adaptation and test stimuli to determine whether the reduced aftereffects reflect atypical adaptation to low- or higher-level stimulus properties. Results indicated that when attention was controlled and directed towards adapting stimuli, face identity aftereffects in children with autism were significantly reduced relative to typical children. This finding challenges the notion that atypicalities in the quality and/or quantity of children’s attention during adaptation might account for group differences previously observed in this paradigm. Additionally, evidence of diminished face identity aftereffects despite a stimulus size change supports an adaptive processing atypicality in autism that extends beyond low-level, retinotopically coded stimulus properties. These findings support the notion that diminished face aftereffects in autism reflect atypicalities in adaptive norm-based coding, which could also contribute to face processing difficulties in this group.

Type: Article
Title: Reduced face aftereffects in autism are not due to poor attention
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081353
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0081353
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2013 Ewing et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: autism, face perception, attention
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1475281
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