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Autism Res. 2019 Aug 30. doi: 10.1002/aur.2200. [Epub ahead of print]

Self-processing in individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

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Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, UK.
Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.


Research attempting to explain the social difficulties observed in autism spectrum disorder has focused predominantly on difficulties understanding others, but there are indications that self-referential processing is also atypical in autism. For example, infants who later get an autism diagnosis show a reduced response when hearing their own name. In addition, research suggests that the self-bias (the tendency to preferentially process information when self-relevant) is smaller or absent in autism. However, findings are mixed: researchers are yet to clarify exactly those aspects of self-processing which are atypical in autism and in what way they are atypical. To gain further insight into these issues, future studies should focus on whether and how different aspects of self-processing are related in both neurotypical and autistic individuals. Furthermore, the (a)typical development of different aspects of the self, as well as the impact of the self on different domains of cognitive processing, deserves further attention, requiring studies with participants in a wide age range. Finally, the use of neural measures of self-processing will be invaluable, given the recent hypothesis that autistic individuals may learn to compensate for difficulties by relying on neural pathways which differ from those utilised by neurotypical individuals. Autism Res 2019, 1-5. © 2019 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc. LAY SUMMARY: Research has indicated that individuals with autism spectrum disorder show differences in the processing of self-relevant information. However, as yet, exactly how self-processing differs in autism remains unknown. To further our understanding of the self in autism, future studies should focus on the relationship between different aspects of self-processing, investigating brain activity as well as behaviour, across a wide range of ages.


compensation; egocentric bias; self-processing; social cognition


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