Date of Award
Master of Science (MSc)
Previous studies have reported inconsistent results for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in both biological motion and Navon tasks. Each of these tasks require both local and global processing and were used in this study to compare processing styles of both ASD and typical groups. In the biological motion study, the ASD and the typical groups completed an emotion and a direction-discrimination experiment with happy and angry point-light walkers, which were presented in four different stimulus conditions: upright, inverted, scrambled and random. Overall, the ASD group had higher reaction times and lower accuracy, but the effect of condition did not differ between groups. Both groups performed worse in terms of accuracy and reaction times in the scrambled (i.e., local information only) conditions, therefore revealing a global bias in the processing of biological motion information. In the Navon task study with the same participants, typical individuals exhibited a global precedence effect, manifested as lower reaction times for global stimuli as well as global interference in “look for only local digits” task. However, individuals in the ASD group did not, on average, show a local or a global bias. In a subsequent analysis, the ASD group was divided into locally-biased and globally-biased sub-groups. Now, when a three way analysis between typical and the two ASD groups was performed, the globally-biased group’s performance was not distinguishable from that of the typical group, while no global bias was observed for the locally-biased group. When these two groups were compared on the Biological Motion study, the locally-biased group had no reaction time difference across conditions including both biological motion and Navon tasks, unlike the globally-biased group, who displayed higher reaction times for the scrambled condition, just like the typical group did. Therefore, it is possible that the inconsistencies in the local-global processing literature of individuals with ASD may have resulted because the studies did not account for individual differences in processing styles within the ASD groups that may be variable, unlike typical individuals who have a global bias for most tasks.
Trivedi, Nidhi, "Individual differences in the local or global processing styles within individuals with Autism: an evidence against the Weak Central Coherence and the Enhanced Perceptual Processing theories." (2012). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 7556.
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