The Weak Coherence Account: Detail-focused Cognitive Style in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, UK.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (Impact Factor: 3.34). 02/2006; 36(1):5-25. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-005-0039-0
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT "Weak central coherence" refers to the detail-focused processing style proposed to characterise autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The original suggestion of a core deficit in central processing resulting in failure to extract global form/meaning, has been challenged in three ways. First, it may represent an outcome of superiority in local processing. Second, it may be a processing bias, rather than deficit. Third, weak coherence may occur alongside, rather than explain, deficits in social cognition. A review of over 50 empirical studies of coherence suggests robust findings of local bias in ASD, with mixed findings regarding weak global processing. Local bias appears not to be a mere side-effect of executive dysfunction, and may be independent of theory of mind deficits. Possible computational and neural models are discussed.

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Available from: Uta Frith, Jun 13, 2015
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    • "Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is defined in terms of difficulties in social interaction and communication, repetitive behavior, and at y pical input of sensor y information (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Indeed, considerable evidence has proved that individuals with ASD showed atypical processing in not only theory of mind tasks but also various perceptual and cognitive tasks (Happé & Frith, 2006). Specifically, audiovisual speech perception in people with ASD has received focus, as their disturbed social communication skills might result from an atypical multisensory perceptual integration (Massaro & Bosseler, 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: The McGurk effect is a perceptual phenomenon that an observer would perceive the intermediate phoneme when presented with a speaking movie dubbed with an incongruent voice. Several studies on autism spectrum disorders (ASD) revealed that individuals with ASD showed weak influence of visual speech in the McGurk effect. Other studies, however, reported negative results. This inconsistency might be caused by the clinical group’s heterogeneity. This study examined the relationship between autistic traits and the McGurk effect among 51 healthy university students based on the dimensional model of ASD (Frith, 1991). Results revealed that for the McGurk stimuli, autistic traits negatively correlated with the rate of visual response and positively correlated with that of fused response; no correlation was observed with accuracy in perceiving the audiovisual congruent stimuli. This indicates that autistic traits might predict the weak influence of visual speech in the McGurk effect.
    08/2015; 6(2):9-12. DOI:10.5178/lebs.2015.34.
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    • "Nevertheless, similar to the revised WCC account, the EPF theory suggests that individuals with ASD show a local bias (when processing hierarchical stimuli), without a global processing deficit (for a more elaborate description, see Mottron et al. 2006). Numerous studies have investigated local–global processing in ASD but they contain many inconsistencies (for reviews, see Dakin and Frith 2005; Happé and Frith 2006; Simmons et al. 2009; for a meta-analysis, see Van der Hallen et al. 2015). This might in part be due to differences in the tasks used. "
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    ABSTRACT: Local and global visual processing abilities and processing style were investigated in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) versus typically developing individuals, children versus adolescents and boys versus girls. Individuals with ASD displayed more attention to detail in daily life, while laboratory tasks showed slightly reduced global processing abilities, intact local processing abilities, and a more locally oriented processing style. However, the presence of these group differences depended on particular task and sample (i.e., age and gender) characteristics. Most measures of local and global processing did not correlate with each other and were not associated with processing style. Significant associations between local-global processing and ASD symptom severity were observed, but the causality of these associations remains unclear.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 08/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10803-015-2526-2 · 3.06 Impact Factor
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    • "Significant investigation has been devoted to characterizing people with ASC as having a preference for detail-oriented, logical thinking over the derivation of gestalt meaning (i.e., Happe and Frith 2006). For example, adults with ASC are more likely than TD adults to focus on relationships between specific details than conveying the big picture when retelling a film clip (Barnes and Baron-Cohen 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: In this discourse analytic study, we examine interactions between adolescents with autism spectrum condition (ASC) and their typically developing (TD) peers during the construction of fictional narratives within a group intervention context. We found participants with ASC contributed fewer narrative-related turns at talk than TD participants. The groups organized the activity as a means to subvert moral and social norms, and youth with ASC participated in negotiating new norms with varying degrees of success. Further, participants with ASC often prioritized making explicit links between narrative events over creative interpretations of narrative, which illustrated differing orientations to the narrative project. Our findings add an interactional dimension to existing research focusing on the psychological aspects of narrative production in individuals with ASC.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 07/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10803-015-2524-4 · 3.06 Impact Factor
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