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Face Processing Strategies in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Daniel, Niki (2011). Face Processing Strategies in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


The primary aim of this thesis was to investigate the face processing strategies of children with high-functioning autism. Based on the assumptions that face processing relies on holistic, configural and featural information processing of faces, and on previous findings that individuals with autism show atypicalities in configural and/or holistic face processing, experiments in the current thesis were designed in order to further investigate configural and holistic processing of faces in ASD. Experiment 1 investigated configural processing with the use of the ‘Jane Task’ (Mondloch, et al., 2002). Experiment 2 investigated holistic processing by replicating the part-whole paradigm (Joseph & Tanaka, 2003). Experiments 3 and 4 aimed to clarify the relationship between configural and holistic processing and their operationalisation, by applying the face distinctiveness effect paradigm (Johnston & Ellis, 1995). Experiment 5 aimed to further investigate the face inversion effect and its implications on configural processing. Overall, our participants with ASD showed typical holistic and configural face processing when faces were upright. However, when face stimuli were presented in inverted conditions, participants with ASD showed atypicalities and differences compared to a typically developing comparison group of children. It was concluded that children with ASD develop compensatory strategies for processing faces which are effective for upright faces, however when faces are upside down these strategies fail to support recognition and so impairments become apparent. Implications of the current findings are discussed in relation to the broader theories of autism as well as the face processing literature and the current paradigms used to investigate the different types of face processing

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
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