Article

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.

Download full-text

Full-text

Available from: Uta Frith, Jun 13, 2015
  • Source
    • "The key behavioural features defining ASC are the presence of difficulties in social reciprocity and communication , alongside unusually narrow interests, repetitive behaviours and speech, insistence on sameness, and idiosyncratic sensory responses DSM-V®[30]. Cognitively, ASC is described as a condition characterised by weakened central coherence[35,46], executive dysfunction[76], and mentalising difficulties[5,6]alongside strengths in 'systemizing'[5]and attention to detail[82,83]. Genetic, environmental, neurological, and immunological factors contribute to its aetiology[72]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Growing evidence points toward a critical role for early (prenatal) atypical neurodevelopmental processes in the aetiology of autism spectrum condition (ASC). One such process that could impact early neural development is inflammation. We review the evidence for atypical expression of molecular markers in the amniotic fluid, serum, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and the brain parenchyma that suggest a role for inflammation in the emergence of ASC. This is complemented with a number of neuroimaging and neuropathological studies describing microglial activation. Implications for treatment are discussed.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2016 · Molecular Autism
  • Source
    • "However, cultural independence of sequence learning in boys with ASD is in contrast to the findings of Weru (2005) who found children with ASD from Kenya to be more impaired in general than children with ASD from the United States of America. However, in our study sequence learning in boys with ASD was related to age which suggests that also in the autistic mind there is a healthy core of executive functioning skills even if these do not reach the same level as in typically developed children (see also Happé et al., 2006; Ozonoff & McEvoy, 1994; Robinson et al., 2009). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The study investigated sequence learning from stochastic feedback in boys with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and typically developed (TD) boys. We asked boys with ASD from Nigeria and the UK as well as age- and gender-matched controls (also males only) to deduce a sequence of four left and right button presses, LLRR, RRLL, LRLR, RLRL, LRRL and RLLR from a feedback signal. Results revealed no significant differences between the boys with ASD from Nigeria and the UK as both groups of boys improved during the task. Most interestingly, the ASD and TD group of boys learning differed for certainty, but not uncertainty of feedback. We concluded that further research is needed why boys with ASD did not benefit from true, logical and reliable feedback.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2016 · Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilitites
  • Source
    • "Diminished integration of static features may contribute to difficulties recognizing faces from photographic images experienced by some individuals with ASD (Simmons et al., 2009; Weigelt et al., 2012). Observers with ASD often focus on local features and may therefore experience problems forming integrated global representations (Behrmann et al., 2006; Happe & Frith, 2006). Moreover, it has been argued that extensive visual experience of a stimulus class is necessary to acquire holistic representation (Diamond & Carey, 1986; Richler, Mack, Palmeri, & Gauthier, 2011). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Characteristic problems with social interaction have prompted considerable interest in the face processing of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Studies suggest that reduced integration of information from disparate facial regions likely contributes to difficulties recognizing static faces in this population. Recent work also indicates that observers with ASD have problems using patterns of facial motion to judge identity and gender, and may be less able to derive global motion percepts. These findings raise the possibility that feature integration deficits also impact the perception of moving faces. To test this hypothesis, we examined whether observers with ASD exhibit susceptibility to a new dynamic face illusion, thought to index integration of moving facial features. When typical observers view eye-opening and -closing in the presence of asynchronous mouth-opening and -closing, the concurrent mouth movements induce a strong illusory slowing of the eye transitions. However, we find that observers with ASD are not susceptible to this illusion, suggestive of weaker integration of cross-feature dynamics. Nevertheless, observers with ASD and typical controls were equally able to detect the physical differences between comparison eye transitions. Importantly, this confirms that observers with ASD were able to fixate the eye-region, indicating that the striking group difference has a perceptual, not attentional origin. The clarity of the present results contrasts starkly with the modest effect sizes and equivocal findings seen throughout the literature on static face perception in ASD. We speculate that differences in the perception of facial motion may be a more reliable feature of this condition.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2016 · Cortex
Show more