Seeing It Differently: Visual Processing in Autism
Several recent behavioral and neuroimaging studies have documented an impairment in face processing in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It remains unknown, however, what underlying mechanism gives rise to this face processing difficulty. One theory suggests that the difficulty derives from a pervasive problem in social interaction and/or motivation. An alternative view proposes that the faceprocessing problem is not entirely social in nature and that a visual perceptual impairment might also contribute. The focus of this review is on this latter, perceptual perspective, documenting the psychological and neural alterations that might account for the face processing impairment. The available evidence suggests that perceptual alterations are present in ASD, independent of social function.