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Poster F139

Illusory Contour Integration in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Their Unaffected Siblings

Poster Session F - Tuesday, April 16, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Dennis Cregin1, Tringa Lecaj1, Shlomit Beker1, Pierfilippo De Sanctis1, John Foxe1,2, Sophie Molholm1; 1Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 2Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

Contour integration (CI) is a fundamental process by which the brain links visual elements into coherent visual objects. CI can be probed using illusory visual stimuli such as Kanisza figures (described below). The illusory objects perceived from these stimuli involve feedback systems, and thus provide a test of top-down processing integrity, which is impaired in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Neurotypical CI of these stimuli takes place in two phases: an earlier “perceptual phase” and a later “conceptual phase.” Previous electrophysiologic work demonstrates that children with ASD exhibit marked attenuation of both phases of CI. However, research on CI remains limited in younger children and is nonexistent in siblings of individuals with ASD. Inclusion of this latter cohort can aid in determining whether observed differences are related to heritable mechanisms. Electroencephalography (EEG) data were acquired while children aged 8-12 (ASD, N=33; Neurotypical, N=16; Unaffected Siblings, N=19) passively viewed Kanisza figures consisting of inducers aligned either randomly (non-contour stimuli) or such that an illusory square is perceived (illusory contour stimuli). Preliminary inspection of EEG data suggest that later phases of CI are intact in all groups, whilst early phase CI effects are absent, including in the neurotypical cohort. This suggests that early and automatic CI processes are not yet fully developed in this age group, who perhaps rely on later effortful phases of CI. Additional analyses on illusory contour effects in the gamma frequency band will also be presented, as gamma is linked to perceptual binding and is often reduced in ASD.

Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Vision


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April 13–16  |  2024