Visuoconstructive abilities and visuospatial memory in autism spectrum disorder without intellectual disability: Is the role of local bias specific to the cognitive domain tested?

Objective: Visuospatial processing in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) without intellectual disability remains only partly understood. The aim of the present study was to investigate global versus local visuospatial processing in individuals with ASD, comparing them with typically developing (TD) controls in visuoconstructive and visuospatial memory tasks. Method: There were 21 participants with ASD without intellectual disability, and 21 TD controls matched for chronological age (M = 161.37 months, SD = 38.19), gender, and perceptual reasoning index who were tested. Participants were administered tasks assessing the visuoconstructive domain and involving fine motor skills, and visuospatial memory tasks in which visuospatial information had to be manipulated mentally. Results: Using a mixed-effects model approach, our results showed different effects of local bias in the ASD group, depending on the domain considered: the use of a local approach only emerged for the visuoconstructive domain—in which fine motor skills were involved. Conclusions: These results seem to suggest that the local bias typical of the cognitive profile of ASD without intellectual disability could be a property of specific cognitive domains rather than a central mechanism. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)