Evidence for a Cultural Influence on Field-Independence in Autism Spectrum Disorder
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Field-independence, or weak central coherence, is a recognised phenotype of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There is also evidence of cultural variation in this perceptual style, as neurotypical individuals from Western nations are more field-independent than neurotypical individuals from East-Asian nations. The majority of research on perceptual style in those with ASD has been carried out in Western nations therefore it is unclear whether increased field-independence in ASD is a culturally universal phenotype. Here, we assessed perceptual style in children with and without ASD from England and Singapore using the Children’s Embedded Figures Test and the Framed-Line Test. We found increased field-independence in the English participants with ASD only, suggesting that weak central coherence in ASD is not culturally universal.
KeywordsPerceptual style Weak central coherence Culture Autism spectrum disorders
This research was supported by a research grant from the Singapore Children’s Society. It was carried out for partial fulfilment of the first author’s PhD degree. We would like to thank all of the families who generously participated in the study, the enthusiastic special needs officers and teachers of from Singapore (Nan Hua Primary School, Griffiths Primary School, River Valley Primary School, Sembawang Primary School, Hong Kah North Student Care Centre) and South Yorkshire England (All Saint’s Catholic High, Longley School Huddersfield, Meynell Primary School, Horbury Specialist Language College Wakefield). Also the Autism Team at Sheffield City council, who helped with participant recruitment, and Diana Macleod for her assistance with data collection.
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