Development of motion processing in children with autism.
Annaz D., Remington A., Milne E., Coleman M., Campbell R., Thomas MS., Swettenham J.
Recent findings suggest that children with autism may be impaired in the perception of biological motion from moving point-light displays. Some children with autism also have abnormally high motion coherence thresholds. In the current study we tested a group of children with autism and a group of typically developing children aged 5 to 12 years of age on several motion perception tasks, in order to establish the specificity of the biological motion deficit in relation to other visual discrimination skills. The first task required the recognition of biological from scrambled motion. Three quasi-psychophysical tasks then established individual thresholds for the detection of biological motion in dynamic noise, of motion coherence and of form-from-motion. Lastly, individual thresholds for a task of static perception--contour integration (Gabor displays)--were also obtained. Compared to controls, children with autism were particularly impaired in processing biological motion in relation to any developmental measure (chronological or mental age). In contrast, there was some developmental overlap in ability to process other types of visual motion between typically developing children and the children with autism, and evidence of developmental change in both groups. Finally, Gabor display thresholds appeared to develop typically in children with autism.