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Do individuals with autism process categories differently? The effect of typicality and development

Gastgeb HZ, Strauss MS, Minshew NJ

This study examined the effect of exemplar typicality on reaction time and accuracy of categorization. High-functioning children (age 9-12), adolescents (age 13-16), and adults with autism (age 17-48) and matched controls were tested in a category verification procedure. All groups showed improved processing throughout the lifespan for typical and somewhat typical category exemplars. However, individuals with autism responded more slowly than matched controls to atypical exemplars at all ages. The results are discussed in terms of potential differences in the type of processing that may be required for categorizing typical and atypical category exemplars. Parallels are also drawn to the results of previous studies on face processing in individuals with autism.