March 25, 2023

The study shows that children with autism see optical illusions differently

Optical illusions helped scientists observe how different the brains of children with autism were compared to neurotic models, reports a new study published in the Scientific Journal. Journal of Neuroscience. Illusion visual devices break the common pattern through which we see the world, reshaping the process, analysis, and prediction of visual stimuli, and thus involve complex communication and responses between different brain regions.

Subsequently, the visual processing of children with autism was shown to be slightly different in the experiments. When we look at images or objects, our brain takes into account our current experiences and contextual information, anticipating sensory input, working with ambiguities and filling in gaps. In people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), especially children, this occurs uncommonly, and appears to be slower than average.

Brain processing and autism

Other studies have indicated that these children do not process human body language in the same way as those without autism spectrum disorder, which is an indication that there is a delay in unconscious processing. This led the researchers to suspect that the response between higher-order regions of the brain and primary sensory regions could also be affected in people with autism, which led to the study we’re talking about.

Optical illusions are the perfect tool to test the action, and Kanessa’s characters were chosen for this. They are the work of Italian psychologist Gaetano Canessa, who produced illusions based on drawings that, when arranged in a certain way, produce the contours of another object, such as a pair of faces facing each other and their silhouettes gathered in the shape of a goblet.

The volunteers of the experiment were 60 children, 29 of them with autism, who had to focus on a point in the center of the screen. In the background, the figures of Canessa were shown – since the children did not focus on them directly, they were viewed with a passive gaze, which makes it possible to study the brain’s automatic response to ambiguous images.

results and aids

Using electroencephalography, the children’s brain activity was recorded, which showed slower processing of Canisa figures than individuals with autism spectrum disorder. This means that they may not be able to predict and fill in visual gaps in the same way as their non-ASD counterparts, which may explain some of the differences in the way many autistic people see the world.

Technically speaking, scientists have identified children with autism as having deficits in processing visual responses, meaning that communication between sensory receptive regions and those involved in analyzing such signals may be less efficient in these people. With this understanding, the researchers hope to better understand how people with autism view the world and look for ways to support children and adults with autism, reducing any difficulties they may experience.

Source: Journal of Neuroscience