Perception in autism does not adhere to weber’s law

Bat Sheva Hadad, Sivan Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Perceptual atypicalities are a widely acknowledged but poorly understood feature of autism. We demonstrate here a striking violation of one of the most adaptive psychophysical computations - Weber’s law - in high-functioning individuals with autism. JNDs based on the best- fitting psychometric functions were measured for size visual judgments (Exp. 1), weight haptic discrimination (Exp. 2), and illusive perception of weight (brightness-weight illusion; Exp. 3). Results for the typically developed group confirmed Weber’s law, demonstrating a linear increase in JNDs with intensity, resulting in constant fractions across intensities. The results for the ASD, in contrast, showed no scaling of JNDs with intensity; instead, fractions decreased linearly with intensity. In striking contrast to its consistency in typical perception, Weber’s law does not hold for visual and haptic perception in autism. These robust modulations in psychophysical computations, demonstrated for different domains of perception, suggest a modality-independent, low-level mechanism driving altered perception in autism.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere42223
StatePublished - Mar 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience


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