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J Autism Dev Disord. 2011 Jul;41(7):968-73. doi: 10.1007/s10803-010-1115-7.

Developing spatial frequency biases for face recognition in autism and Williams syndrome.

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  • 1Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, School of Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX, UK. h.leonard@psychology.bbk.ac.uk

Abstract

The current study investigated whether contrasting face recognition abilities in autism and Williams syndrome could be explained by different spatial frequency biases over developmental time. Typically-developing children and groups with Williams syndrome and autism were asked to recognise faces in which low, middle and high spatial frequency bands were masked. All three groups demonstrated a gradual specialisation toward the mid-band. However, while the use of high spatial frequencies decreased in control and autism groups over development, the Williams syndrome group did not display a bias toward this band at any point. These data demonstrate that typical outcomes can be achieved through atypical developmental processes, and confirm the importance of cross-syndrome studies in the investigation of developmental disorders.

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