Repeated viewing of a stimulus causes a change in perceptual sensitivity, known as a visual aftereffect. Similarly, in neuroimaging, repetitions of the same stimulus result in a reduction in the neural response, known as repetition suppression (RS). Previous research shows that aftereffects for faces are reduced in both children with autism and in first-degree relatives. With functional magnetic resonance imaging, we found that the magnitude of RS to faces in neurotypical participants was negatively correlated with individual differences in autistic traits. We replicated this finding in a second experiment, while additional experiments showed that autistic traits also negatively predicted RS to images of scenes and simple geometric shapes. These findings suggest that a core aspect of neural function—the brain's response to repetition—is modulated by autistic traits.
Ewbank, M. P., Rhodes, G., Von Dem Hagen, E. A. H., Powell, T. E., Bright, N., Stoyanova, R. S., ... Calder, A. (2015). Repetition Suppression in Ventral Visual Cortex Is Diminished as a Function of Increasing Autistic Traits. Cerebral Cortex, 25(10), 3381–3393. https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhu149