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Social timing in autism spectrum disorders

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Abstract Anecdotal reports of abnormal experience and management of time fuelled recent studies of timing functions and processing of temporal information in autism. In this lecture I summarise studies on temporal processing in autism covering various time ranges and timing functions from millisecond timing of visual events and temporal intervals to the synchrony of motion between interaction partners during communication. Performance patterns are characterised by impaired as well as intact and even superior performance in temporal processing tasks, depending on task demands and strategies. Importantly, any deviation from typical processing of time is found to be related to symptom severity in communication, eliciting the idea of an ‘optimal temporal tuning’ of perception to aid social interaction. Preliminary results of abnormal social synchrony in autism will be presented leading on to the conceptualisation of social disembodiment in autism through being ‘out of sync’.

Bio: Christine Falter-Wagner is a clinician-researcher who received her PhD in Experimental Psychology from the University of Cambridge (2008). She then spent several years as postdoctoral fellow at the MEG Unit for Neurodevelopmental Disorders, University of Oxford and as Rosalind Franklin Fellow at the University of Groningen. In 2016 she obtained her Habilitation at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cologne and is now Head of the Outpatient Clinic for Autism at the LMU Munich.

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