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J Autism Dev Disord. 2008 Nov;38(10):1989-97. doi: 10.1007/s10803-008-0559-5. Epub 2008 Aug 19.

Brief report: atypical social cognition and social behaviours in autism spectrum disorder: a different way of processing rather than an impairment.

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Department of Psychology, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.


A central question to autism research is whether autism is largely the result of an impairment in social cognition and/or motivation or the result of a more general processing difference. This review discusses problems with the "social deficit" model of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It is suggested that superior attention to low-level perceptual information potentially coupled with decreased attention to global information may provide a more comprehensive explanation for atypical social behaviours in ASD. This processing style may reflect increased activation of occipital-temporal regions and reduced functional (and possibly anatomical) connectivity. It is concluded that atypical social behaviours in ASD are more likely to be a consequence reflective of a general processing difference than impairment in social cognition and/or motivation.

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