Thinking in Pictures: A fresh look at cognition in autism

In this paper, we develop a cognitive account of autism centered around a reliance on pictorial representations. This Thinking in Pictures hypothesis, inspired by the book of the same name by Temple Grandin, shows significant potential for explaining many autistic behaviors. We support this hypothesis with empirical evidence from several independent cognitive and neuroimaging studies of individuals with autism, each of which shows strong bias towards visual representations and activity. We also examine three other cognitive theories of autism—Mindblindness, Weak Central Coherence, and Executive Dysfunction—and show how Thinking in Pictures provides a deeper explanation for several results typically cited in support of these theories.

Thinking in Pictures: A Fresh Look at Cognition in Autism

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