Temporal processing as a source of altered visual perception in high autistic tendency Academic Article uri icon


  • Superior local at the expense of global perception characterises vision in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). However, progress towards discovering a neural mechanism has been slow. Here we used known differences in magnocellular and parvocellular receptive field properties to assess the temporal encoding of information, via flicker fusion paradigms, in those high and low in self-reported autistic tendency (Autism Spectrum Quotient - AQ). A Low AQ group (AQ≤13, n=22), and a High AQ group (AQ≥18, n=17) undertook a 4AFC luminance flicker fusion (FF) with 5 temporal contrasts from 5% to 100%, and a 2AFC isoluminant red-green colour fusion task. Both groups showed an increase in fusion thresholds with temporal achromatic contrast. The High AQ group displayed diminished flicker fusion thresholds compared to the Low AQ at the lowest contrasts. For the red-green colour fusion task, the High AQ group displayed mean fusion frequency slightly greater than the Low AQ group. A significant interaction between 5% luminance contrast and the red-green fusion frequencies demonstrated that the differences in thresholds were not simply due to variations in overall attentional capacity between groups. These differences in flicker fusion thresholds are in accordance with reported differences in cortical visual evoked potential nonlinearities, particularly relating to the neural efficiency of the magnocellular pathway.


  • Thompson, Julia IR
  • Peck, Claire E
  • Karvelas, Georgette
  • Hartwell, Charlotte A
  • Guarnaccia, Catherine
  • Brown, Alyse
  • Crewther, David P

publication date

  • 2015