Investigators Current Studies Perspectives Program intervention for adults ASSET-Adolescent Social-emotional Skills Enhancement Training ADDIRC and Emotion Dysregulation Completed Studies Infant Siblings of ASD Children Categorization in Children & Adults With Autism Emotion Processing Imaging/fMRI Autism Treatment Network Autism Task Force

-This Study is no longer accepting participants

Project I:  Development of Categorization and Facial Knowledge in Low and High Functioning Autism

Facial Study

Where People Look When Watching Faces

Background Information

Researchers at the Infant and Toddler Development Center have been studying the effects of autism in older children and adults since 2002. With the recent naming of the University of Pittsburgh as one of six national Autism Centers of Excellence, this research will continue and will also be extended to the study of both toddlers and young infants.


What We Want To Learn

Our research is concerned with how autism impacts the ability of individuals to process cognitive information. While autism is often described as a disorder that affects the ability of individuals to socially interact with others, it also has a profound impact on the way individuals process all types of information. More specifically, we are studying how autism impacts the way individuals learn about the world, including their knowledge of both categories and f

How We Do This

These studies are focused on individuals, age 6 through adulthood, who have been diagnosed with autism and who also have I.Q. scores above 80. Participants in these studies use a keyboard to respond to a series of simple questions regarding various pictures they see on a computer monitor.

Preliminary Findings

From childhood to adulthood, individuals with autism show continual improvement in most of the abilities we are studying. However, they do not seem to possess the same level of expertise as do typically developing individuals. We believe this is because they are processing both objects and facial information in a manner different from typically developing children. As they age, typically developing children focus less on specific details in favor of type of processing which is more global and configural. In contrast, individuals with autism remain focused on more minor details. Ultimately, this limits their processing abilities. Through this knowledge we hope to improve cognitive capabilities of those with autism by creating interventional methods.


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2006 CeFAR at the University of Pittsburgh