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Autism. 2011 Jul;15(4):457-72. doi: 10.1177/1362361310393364. Epub 2011 Apr 12.

Implicit and explicit understanding of ambiguous figures by adolescents with autism spectrum disorder.

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Lancaster University, Psychology Department, Fylde College, Lancaster, UK.


Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can process both interpretations of an ambiguous figure (e.g. rabbit/duck) when told about the ambiguity, however they tend not to do so spontaneously. Here we show that although adolescents with ASD can explicitly experience such 'reversals', implicit measures suggest they are conceptually processing the images differently from learning disabled peers. Participants copied the same ambiguous figures under different contextual conditions, both before and after reversal experience. Results suggest that adolescents with ASD are not influenced by contextual information when copying ambiguous drawings, since they produce similar pictures before and after reversal, compared with controls. This research has implications for how individuals with ASD understand multiple representations and supports the Enhanced Perceptual Functioning theory.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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