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Child Neuropsychol. 2003 Dec;9(4):289-97.

Inner and outer face perception in children with autism.

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Center of Research in Cognitive Neuroscience, CNRS, Marseille, France.


Possible peculiarities in face perception in the autistic population were explored through two experiments. Fourteen autistic children (mean age=10 years 1 month) were individually matched to verbal mental age (VMA) and chronological age (CA) subjects. In a first experiment, subjects were to match faces on the basis of either their outer (hair, chin, ears) or their inner (eyes, nose, mouth) aspects. Autistic children performed equally well in both conditions, while VMA-matched children performed better in the outer than the inner part condition. In a second experiment, chimeric faces consisting of the outer part of an individual's face and the inner part of another individual's face were presented to the subjects. None of the groups showed a preference for neither the outer nor the inner part of the face in this condition. Results were discussed in terms of the existence of a local visual processing strategy in this population.

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