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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.


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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