Color Perception in Children with Autism

Department of Psychology, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 5XH, England, UK.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (Impact Factor: 3.34). 06/2008; 38(10):1837-47. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-008-0574-6
Source: PubMed


This study examined whether color perception is atypical in children with autism. In experiment 1, accuracy of color memory and search was compared for children with autism and typically developing children matched on age and non-verbal cognitive ability. Children with autism were significantly less accurate at color memory and search than controls. In experiment 2, chromatic discrimination and categorical perception of color were assessed using a target detection task. Children with autism were less accurate than controls at detecting chromatic targets when presented on chromatic backgrounds, although were equally as fast when target detection was accurate. The strength of categorical perception of color did not differ for the two groups. Implications for theories on perceptual development in autism are discussed.

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    • ". In addition , the study of subjects with autism has revealed a reduced visual accuracy in the perception of colors [26]. "
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    • "(b) In achromatic VEPs, achromatic (black/white) low-contrast (16.6 %) sinusoidal gratings (visual angle, 10 Â 10 ; mean luminance, 21 cd/m 2 ; spatial frequency, 1 cycle per degree) are presented for 2,000 ms and rapidly alternate in a square-wave fashion at 8 Hz (16 reversals/s). Abbreviations in this and subsequent figures: VEPs visual evoked potentials (Adapted from Fujita et al. 2011) (color memory, color search, and chromatic discrimination) in ASD children without color deficits in perceiving Ishihara color plates (Franklin et al. 2008). Therefore, Fujita et al. (2011) proposed the possibility of impaired P-color processing with enhanced P-form processing, based on the abundant evidence of superior fine form perception in ASD (Dakin and Frith 2005). "

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    • "Therefore, although the influence of categorization on discrimination was typical for the ASD group, there was an overall reduction in chromatic sensitivity relative to the TD group. On the basis of the findings from these two experiments, Franklin et al. (2008) concluded that, contrary to what the findings of Brian et al. (2003) may seem to indicate, those with ASD actually have reduced sensitivity to colour differences. "
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    ABSTRACT: Atypical perception in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is well documented (Dakin & Frith, 2005). However, relatively little is known about colour perception in ASD. Less accurate performance on certain colour tasks has led some to argue that chromatic discrimination is reduced in ASD relative to typical development (Franklin, Sowden, Burley, Notman & Alder, 2008). The current investigation assessed chromatic discrimination in children with high-functioning autism (HFA) and typically developing (TD) children matched on age and non-verbal cognitive ability, using the Farnsworth-Munsell 100 hue test (Experiment 1) and a threshold discrimination task (Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, more errors on the chromatic discrimination task were made by the HFA than the TD group. Comparison with test norms revealed that performance for the HFA group was at a similar level to typically developing children around 3 years younger. In Experiment 2, chromatic thresholds were elevated for the HFA group relative to the TD group. For both experiments, reduced chromatic discrimination in ASD was due to a general reduction in chromatic sensitivity rather than a specific difficulty with either red-green or blue-yellow subsystems of colour vision. The absence of group differences on control tasks ruled out an explanation in terms of general task ability rather than chromatic sensitivity. Theories to account for the reduction in chromatic discrimination in HFA are discussed, and findings are related to cortical models of perceptual processing in ASD.
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