Numerous studies have consistently found abnormalities in face processing in persons with autism, which is critical in social cognition, yet its mechanism has not been fully understood. Thus, a comprehensive model which explains the mechanism of face perception for ASD has to be established. It is generally believed that people can discriminate faces because the brain has a systematic way to represent human faces. Although, continuous efforts are expected to identify these key dimensions of face representation, the multi-dimensional face recognition model (MFRM), a norm-based coding model, is most widely accepted in the field of human face perception. If the same MFRM fits well on ASD population, it can be concluded that face perception in ASD is not qualitatively different from typically developing population. However, if the same MFRM does not fit on ASD population or a MFRM with different dimensions is found, it could be assumed that face perception in ASD is rather unique, hence understanding of it requires a different approach from that of typically developing population. In order to accomplish the purposes, a series of experimental tasks will be administered to youths with autism and their matched typically developing counterpart in order to test the validity of proposed model, MFRM, while their eye-tracking performance and ERP data are collected as evidence to support the model.
This study has a potential to define distinct perceptual processing in face perception among individuals with autism, as well as their neural mechanisms, and possibly identifying mechanisms of face perception. Identification of face processing mechanism will be critical in fully understanding strengths and weaknesses of social cognition among individuals with autism and further developing an effective treatment to deal with this core symptom