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111Imaging studies have shown that frontal, parietal, and striatal circuitry are the main systems implicated in executive dysfunction in autism.107,108Executive dysfunction is not specific to autism; it is commonly reported in other neuropsychiatric conditions (although with different patterns). One view is that strong executive function early in life could protect at-risk individuals from autism or other neurodevelop-mental conditions by compensating for deficits in other brain systems.112Individuals with autism often have a preference for, and superiority in, processing of local rather than global sensory-perceptual features (table 4). Individuals without autismoften show the opposite profile. This difference could explain the excellent attention to detail, enhanced sensory-perceptual processing and discrimination, and idiosyncratic sensory responsivity (ie, hyper-reactivity or hyporeactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory features of the environment)in autism. It could also contribute to the exceptional abilities disproportion-ately recorded in individuals with autism.113,114Addition-ally, top-down information processing in individuals with autismis often characterised by reduced recognition of the global context,115and a strong preference to derive rule-based systems.113The neural bases are spatially distributed and task dependent, but converge on enhanced recruitment of primary sensory cortices, reduced recruitment of association and frontal cortices involved in top-down control,116and enhanced synchro-nisation of parietal-occipital circuits.117NeurobiologyNeurobiological investigation has identified patterns of brain perfusion and neural biochemical characteristics, which are described elsewhere.118,119Additionally, systems-level connectivity features and plausible neuroanatomi-cal, cellular, and molecular underpinnings of autism have been identified. Evidence from electrophysiology and functional neuroimaging (resting-state and task-based connectivity),120structural neuroimaging (white-matter Main behavioural featuresMain cognitive (psychological) constructsSocial cognition and social perceptionAtypical social interaction and social communicationGaze and eye contact; emotion perception; face processing; biological motion perception; social attention and orienting; social motivation; social reward processing; non-verbal communication; imitation; affective empathy and sympathy; joint attention; pretend play; theory of mind or mental perspective taking; self-referential cognition; alexithymia (diﬃculty understanding and describing own emotions); metacognitive awarenessExecutive functionRepetitive and stereotyped behaviour; atypical social interaction and social communicationCognitive ﬂexibility; planning; inhibitory control; attention shifting; monitoring; generativity; working memoryBottom-up and top-down(localvsglobal)information processing*Idiosyncratic sensory-perceptual processing; excellent attention to detail; restricted interests and repetitive