Autism News: Research Suggests No Visual Motor Processing Deficits in Autistic Adolescents

Visual Motor Processing in Adolescent Autistics Researched
Research Studies Visual Motor Processing in Autistic Adolescents

Autism News Update:

Some have suggested that the behaviors and cognitive symptoms associated with autism might be due to the inability to properly process visual input.  Previous research in this area has been inconsistent in terms of outcomes.  A recent study attempted to clear up the inconsistencies found in previous studies by utilizing a larger number of participants.  The findings were published in an article titled No Evidence for Fundamental Visual Motor Processing Deficit in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

The study included 141 individuals.  The study group consisted of 89 adolescents with autism and the control group consisted of 52 non-autistic adolescents.  The mean age of the participants was 15 years and 6 months.  The participants were drawn from a wide range of IQ’s (52-133).  The study observed 3 aspects of visual processing:

  1. Biological Motion
  2. Form-From-Motion
  3. Motion Coherence

The study found that the autistic adolescents performed similarly to the adolescents in the control group on all 3 task areas observed.  This suggests there is no deficit in visual motor processing in autistic adolescents.

The researchers did identify a difference in biological motion processing among the autistic adolescents with low IQ’s.  However, the study group overall (including autistic adolescents with moderate to high IQ’s) showed no deficits in visual motor processing.

The study also found that in both the study and the control groups, performance on the biological motion portion of the analysis correlated to performance on Frith-Happé animations.  The authors suggest that this correlation is likely due to the same area of the brain (superior temporal sulcus) being used to perform the social-cognitive aspects of these tasks.

The article was epublished on August 17, 2011 in Autism Research.

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