Impaired global, and compensatory local, biological motion processing in people with high levels of autistic traits
- 1Psychology Department, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA
- 2Statistics Department, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA
People with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are hypothesized to have poor high-level processing but superior low-level processing, causing impaired social recognition, and a focus on non-social stimulus contingencies. Biological motion perception provides an ideal domain to investigate exactly how ASD modulates the interaction between low and high-level processing, because it involves multiple processing stages, and carries many important social cues. We investigated individual differences among typically developing observers in biological motion processing, and whether such individual differences associate with the number of autistic traits. In Experiment 1, we found that individuals with fewer autistic traits were automatically and involuntarily attracted to global biological motion information, whereas individuals with more autistic traits did not show this pre-attentional distraction. We employed an action adaptation paradigm in the second study to show that individuals with more autistic traits were able to compensate for deficits in global processing with an increased involvement in local processing. Our findings can be interpreted within a predictive coding framework, which characterizes the functional relationship between local and global processing stages, and explains how these stages contribute to the perceptual difficulties associated with ASD.
Keywords: biological motion perception, autism spectrum disorder, attention, individual differences, predictive coding, adaptation, dual-task
Citation: van Boxtel JJA and Lu H (2013) Impaired global, and compensatory local, biological motion processing in people with high levels of autistic traits. Front. Psychol. 4:209. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00209
Received: 27 November 2012; Accepted: 04 April 2013;
Published online: 23 April 2013.
Copyright: © 2013 van Boxtel and Lu. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.
*Correspondence: Jeroen J. A. van Boxtel, Psychology Department, University of California Los Angeles, Franz Hall 6550, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA. e-mail: email@example.com