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Keywords:

  • Autism;
  • Asperger's syndrome;
  • weak central coherence;
  • visuospatial ability;
  • visual illusions

The current study follows a recent paper reporting that individuals with autism were just as susceptible to visual illusions as those without autism (Ropar & Mitchell, 1999). The possibility that individual differences may account for the failure to replicate Happé's (1996) findings is explored by presenting a battery of visuospatial tasks thought to measure weak central coherence (embedded figures, block design, Rey complex figure test). Participants with autism were distinguished by relatively good performance on visuospatial tasks, though there was no superiority effect in those with Asperger's syndrome. Performance on the visuospatial battery did not significantly predict susceptibility to illusions in various participant groups, including those with autism and Asperger's syndrome. This suggests that perception of illusions and performance on visuospatial tasks may rely on different mechanisms. The implications for the theory of weak central coherence are discussed.