Reevaluating the selectivity of face-processing difficulties in children and adolescents with autism

Louise Ewing*, Elizabeth Pellicano, Gillian Rhodes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


There are few direct examinations of whether face-processing difficulties in autism are disproportionate to difficulties with other complex non-face stimuli. Here we examined discrimination ability and memory for faces, cars, and inverted faces in children and adolescents with and without autism. Results showed that, relative to typical children, the difficulties of children and adolescents with autism were not limited to, or disproportionately severe for, faces. Rather, these participants demonstrated significant difficulties in remembering and discriminating between faces and cars. This lack of face selectivity is inconsistent with prominent theories that attribute face-processing difficulties in autism to fundamental problems with social motivation or social attention. Instead, our results are consistent with a more pervasive perceptual atypicality that may affect autistic processing of non-face stimuli as well as face stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-355
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • autism spectrum conditions
  • development
  • face perception
  • face processing
  • face recognition
  • object perception


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