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Behavioral and functional neuroimaging investigations of visual perception and cognition in autistics

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It has been consistently found that autism is associated with superior sensory perception, independent of social function. Autistics score very highly on tests of perceptual detection and higher-level visual reasoning. Autistics may tend to perceive the world as it is, whereas non-autistics may tend to perceive the world according to their expectations. In this research, Dr. Mottron and his colleagues will examine the neural basis of this enhanced visual perception and reasoning in autistics. They will use functional MRI and EEGs to image and measure the activity of specific brain regions in autistic subjects during visual problem solving and reasoning tests. Using various tests of visual perception, they will characterize the versatility, scope, and limitations of autistics' enhanced performance on these tests, and determine which brain regions and neural pathways are involved. A more complete understanding of autistic individuals' strength in perception and visual reasoning may have important implications with respect to selecting and creating parenting, teaching, and workplace strategies that leverage these abilities.