Global/local processing in autism: Not a disability, but a disinclination

Kami Koldewyn, Yuhong V. Jiang, Sarah Weigelt, Nancy Kanwisher

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    90 Scopus citations


    It is widely suggested that ASD is characterized by atypical local/global processing, but the published findings are contradictory. In an effort to resolve this question, we tested a large group of children on both a free-choice task and an instructed task using hierarchical local-global stimuli. We find that although children with autism showed a reduced preference to report global properties of a stimulus when given a choice, their ability to process global properties when instructed to do so is unimpaired. These findings support prior claims that people with ASD show a disinclination, not a disability, in global processing, and highlight the broader question of whether other characteristics of autism may also reflect disinclinations rather than disabilities.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)2329-2340
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
    Issue number10
    StatePublished - Oct 2013


    • Autism spectrum disorder
    • Cognitive development
    • Global attention
    • Global/local processing

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