Semantic meaning can be extracted from pictures presented very briefly, in the order of tens of milliseconds. This ultra-rapid categorization processing appears to respect a coarse-to-fine path where lower level representations of concepts, or more detailed information, need additional time. We question whether variations in the levels of typicality of the target-item would implicate additional processing for correct classification, both in neurotypical (NT) individuals and with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Previous research in ASD points out that atypical exemplars of a category might be abnormally processed (e.g., longer times in identifying a penguin as a bird), an observation that we further tested with a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) task. In this study, we applied a RSVP task, with four different presentation times (13, 27, 50, and 80 ms) and with typical and atypical exemplars to a group of NT individuals and a sample of individuals with ASD. We found, overall, a strong effect of typicality with a higher detection rate for typical items. In addition, we observed a group × typicality × duration interaction. We interpret these findings in the light of the competences of the feedforward sweep of information through our visual system.
- autism spectrum disorder
- ultra-rapid categorization