Journal of Neuropsychology

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We see the orange not the lemon: typicality effects in ultra‐rapid categorization in adults with and without autism spectrum disorder

Semantic meaning can be extracted from pictures presented very briefly, in the order of tens of milliseconds. This ultra‐rapid categorization processing appears to respect a coarse‐to‐fine path where lower level representations of concepts, or more detailed information, need additional time. We question whether variations in the levels of typicality of the target‐item would implicate additional processing for correct classification, both in neurotypical (NT) individuals and with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Previous research in ASD points out that atypical exemplars of a category might be abnormally processed (e.g., longer times in identifying a penguin as a bird), an observation that we further tested with a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) task. In this study, we applied a RSVP task, with four different presentation times (13, 27, 50, and 80 ms) and with typical and atypical exemplars to a group of NT individuals and a sample of individuals with ASD. We found, overall, a strong effect of typicality with a higher detection rate for typical items. In addition, we observed a group × typicality × duration interaction. We interpret these findings in the light of the competences of the feedforward sweep of information through our visual system.

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