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Autism & Visual Processing

May 4, 2011

Autistic people use their brains differently than non-autistics when processing visual information.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Inside the autistic brain…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Autistic people often excel at certain visual tasks, like finding a small figure in a busy background. Now, researchers at the University of Montreal may have found a clue as to why. Laurent Mottron and his colleagues analyzed 26 autism studies that combined brain scans with all sorts of visual challenges. Co-author Fabienne Samson says that during the tasks, the autistic subjects’ visual processing centers were more active than those of non-autistics.

FABIENNE SAMSON (University of Montreal):

…While non-autistics showed more activity in the regions that are associated with more higher functions, like reasoning and planning.

HIRSHON:

This was true whether the autistic subjects scored better, worse, or the same as non-autistics on the tasks themselves. The results suggest that autistic people use their brains in a different way to tackle visual problems. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.