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CNS Spectr. 2001 Jan;6(1):36-59.

Neural bases and development of face recognition in autism.

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  • 1Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA.


This paper critically examines the literature on face recognition in autism, including a discussion of the neural correlates of this ability. The authors begin by selectively reviewing the behavioral and cognitive neuroscience research on whether faces are represented by a "special" behavioral and neural system-one distinct from object processing. The authors then offer a neuroconstructivist model that attempts to account for the robust finding that certain regions in the inferior temporal cortex are recruited in the service of face recognition. This is followed by a review of the evidence supporting the view that face recognition is atypical in individuals with autism. This face-recognition deficit may indicate a continued risk for the further development of social impairments. The authors conclude by speculating on the role of experience in contributing to this atypical developmental pattern and its implications for normal development of face processing.

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