Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders vol:7 issue:7 pages:913-922
Several studies have investigated contextual influences on visual object processing in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and failed to find reduced context effects. However, these studies did not properly account for local inter-object effects and/or the influence of post-perceptual processes, leaving it unclear whether individuals with ASD display equally large global top-down effects of context, or whether they rely on a more local mechanism producing the same result. In this study, an eye-movement paradigm was used to investigate implicitly induced context effects on visual object processing in children with ASD compared to matched controls. To find out whether the context effects in the ASD group were, to the same extent, due to early top-down influences on object recognition, we also examined the interaction between context effects and the ease of object recognition. Both groups displayed equally large context effects and congruent contextual information facilitated object recognition to the same extent in both groups. This indicates that the context effects in the ASD group did not result from the operation of a more local, less top-down mechanism. These findings contradict predictions based on the weak central coherence account. However, a good alternative to explain all inconsistencies is currently lacking.