Atypical neural specialization for social percepts in autism spectrum disorder.

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TitleAtypical neural specialization for social percepts in autism spectrum disorder.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsMcPartland, JC, Wu, J, Bailey, CA, Mayes, LC, Schultz, RT, Klin, A
JournalSoc Neurosci
Volume6
Issue5-6
Pagination436-51
Date Published2011
ISSN1747-0927
KeywordsChild, Child Development Disorders, Pervasive, Electroencephalography, Evoked Potentials, Visual, Face, Female, Humans, Male, Visual Perception
Abstract

The social motivation hypothesis posits that aberrant neural response to human faces in autism is attributable to atypical social development and consequently reduced exposure to faces. The specificity of deficits in neural specialization remains unclear, and alternative theories suggest generalized processing difficulties. The current study contrasted neural specialization for social information versus nonsocial information in 36 individuals with autism and 18 typically developing individuals matched for age, race, sex, handedness, and cognitive ability. Event-related potentials elicited by faces, inverted faces, houses, letters, and pseudoletters were recorded. Groups were compared on an electrophysiological marker of neural specialization (N170), as well as behavioral performance on standardized measures of face recognition and word reading/decoding. Consistent with prior results, individuals with autism displayed slowed face processing and decreased sensitivity to face inversion; however, they showed comparable brain responses to letters, which were associated with behavioral performance in both groups. Results suggest that individuals with autism display atypical neural specialization for social information but intact specialization for nonsocial information. Findings concord with the notion of specific dysfunction in social brain systems rather than nonspecific information-processing difficulties in autism.

DOI10.1080/17470919.2011.586880
Alternate JournalSoc Neurosci
PubMed ID21777159
PubMed Central IDPMC3204335
Grant ListUL1 RR024139 / RR / NCRR NIH HHS / United States
P01HD003008 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
K23 MH086785-03 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
R03 MH079908 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
P01 HD003008 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
R03 MH079908-01A1 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
K23 MH086785 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
UL1 RR024139-07 / RR / NCRR NIH HHS / United States
P01 HD003008-42 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
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