Deeper attentional masking by lateral objects in children with autism

Luca Ronconi, Simone Gori, Enrico Giora, Milena Ruffino, Massimo Molteni, Andrea Facoetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is often associated with a detail-oriented perception and overselective attention in visual tasks, such as visual search and crowding. These results were obtained manipulating exclusively the spatial properties of the stimuli: few is known about the spatio-temporal dynamics of visual processing in ASD. In this study we employed an attentional masking (AM) paradigm comparing children with ASD and IQ-matched typically developing (TD) controls. The AM effect refers to an impaired identification of a target followed by a competitive masking object at different proximities in space and time. We found that ASD and TD groups did not differ in the AM effect provoked by the competitive object displayed in the same position of the target. In contrast, children with ASD showed a deeper and prolonged interference than the TD group when the masking object was displayed in the lateral position. These psychophysical results suggest that the inefficient attentional selection in ASD depends on the spatio-temporal interaction between competitive visual objects. These evidence are discussed in the light of the ASD altered neural connectivity hypothesis and the reentrant theory of perception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-218
Number of pages6
JournalBrain and Cognition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Object substitution
  • Social cognition
  • Spatio-temporal processing
  • Visual masking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Deeper attentional masking by lateral objects in children with autism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this