Sensory Perception in Autism: What Can We Learn?

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder of unknown etiology. Recently, there has been a growing interest in sensory processing in autism as a core phenotype. However, basic questions remain unanswered. Here, we review the major findings and models of perception in autism and point to methodological issues that have led to conflicting results. We show that popular models of perception in autism, such as the reduced prior hypothesis, cannot explain the many and varied findings. To resolve these issues, we point to the benefits of using rigorous psychophysical methods to study perception in autism. We advocate for perceptual models that provide a detailed explanation of behavior while also taking into account factors such as context, learning, and attention. Furthermore, we demonstrate the importance of tracking changes over the course of development to reveal the causal pathways and compensatory mechanisms. We finally propose a developmental perceptual narrowing account of the condition.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)239-264
Number of pages26
JournalAnnual Review of Vision Science
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2022


  • Bayesian
  • autism
  • development
  • perception
  • perceptual illusions
  • perceptual narrowing
  • psychophysics
  • sensory processing

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Ophthalmology


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