Top-down and bottom-up visual information processing of non-social stimuli in high-functioning autism spectrum disorder

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Individuals with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (HF-ASD) often show superior performance in simple visual tasks, despite difficulties in the perception of socially important information such as facial expression. The neural basis of visual perception abnormalities associated with HF-ASD is currently unclear. We sought to elucidate the functioning of bottom-up and top-down visual information processing in HF-ASD using event-related potentials (ERPs). Eleven adults with HF-ASD and 11 age-matched normal controls (NC) participated in this study. Visual ERPs were recorded using 128-channel EEG. The P1 and P300 were recorded in response to target stimuli. Visual mismatch negativity (vMMN) potentials were obtained by subtracting responses to standard from those to deviant stimuli. Behaviorally, individuals with HF-ASD showed faster target detection than NCs. However, vMMN amplitude and latency were the same between the two groups. In contrast, P1 and P300 amplitudes were significantly decreased in HF-ASD compared with NCs. In addition, P300 latency was significantly delayed in HF-ASD. Individuals with HF-ASD exhibit altered visual information processing. Intact bottom-up attention (vMMN) may contribute to their superior simple visual task performance in spite of abnormal low-level (P1) and top-down (P300) visual information processing.


  • Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders

    Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders 5(1), 201-209, 2011-01



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