CE28 - Cognition, éducation, formation tout au long de la vie

Visual cognitive style in autism : evaluation and repercussions – VISUAL

Submission summary

Heterogeneous profiles in Autism Spectrum (AS) have often been reported. One way to account for this heterogeneity is to distinguish AS individuals with and without speech onset delay (AS-SOD and AS-NoSOD). In fact, certain studies show superior abilities in visual tasks for AS-SOD individuals. In the VISUAL project we aim to show that AS-SOD individuals are visual thinkers, and therefore possess a visual cognitive style. This visual cognitive style will involve: higher voluntary mental imagery capacities such as higher ability to generate, maintain, inspect, and manipulate mental images; higher reports of involuntary mental imagery (synaesthesia, intrusive images); as well as a visual preference during learning, measured with eye tracking techniques. Moreover, we hypothesize that this visual cognitive style will have repercussions in the development of certain psychopathological comorbidities and will impact the daily life of these individuals. We will use interviews, questionnaires, and experimental tasks to implement the project. We will compare performance of AS-SOD participants, AS-NoSOD participants and control participants. Results from the VISUAL project will significantly contribute to the general comprehension of AS and the heterogeneity observed in this condition. Furthermore, by studying extensively mental imagery in two subgroups of AS participants, results will highlight existence of different cognitive profiles and also different psychopathological comorbidities in these two groups. This might have considerable impact in the development of functional evaluation tools for a specific intervention in these individuals. This study will be the first to evaluate the phenomenon of intrusive images in AS and its impact in daily life. By connecting the cognitive and psychopathological dimensions of visual thinking, results will clearly contribute to the prevention of certain psychopathological disorders (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder) in AS but also to the development of adapted Intervention.

Project coordination

Lucie Bouvet (Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches en Psychopathologie et Psychologie de la Santé)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


Université de québec à Montréal / Laboratoire sur l'intelligence et le développement en autisme
MSHS-T Maison des Sciences de l'Homme et de la Société de Toulouse
CERPPS Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches en Psychopathologie et Psychologie de la Santé

Help of the ANR 193,242 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2019 - 36 Months

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