beyond weak central coherence

Elizabeth Pellicano*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


Considerable efforts have been directed towards understanding the key neurocognitive atypicalities underlying the defining behaviors of autism, including difficulties in social communication and limitations in behavioral flexibility. This chapter discusses one prominent theoretical account, which postulates that people with autism display "weak central coherence," a local processing bias combined with difficulties integrating information in context. Drawing upon relevant empirical work, it provides a thorough critical analysis of the theory's central claims. It shows that, despite its popularity, the theory fails consistently to provide a persuasive account of information processing and attentional focus in autism. The chapter ends with a consideration of alternative models of information processing in autism, including a new account that suggests that perceptual and cognitive differences in autism might be caused by pervasive problems in adaptation-those processes fundamental for adjusting to changing sensory inputs.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCognitive neuroscience, development, and psychopathology
Subtitle of host publicationtypical and atypical developmental trajectories of attention
EditorsJacob A. Burack, James T. Enns, Nathan A. Fox
Place of PublicationNew York ; Oxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages35
ISBN (Electronic)9780199979066
ISBN (Print)9780195315455
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • autism
  • weak central coherence
  • enhanced local processing
  • integration
  • adaptation

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