Laurie-Anne Sapey-Triomphe, "Autism, infinite detail in perception"

Fellow 2016 L'Oréal-Unesco For Women In Science, Laurie-Anne Sapey-Triomphe is working on understanding how people suffering with autism perceive the world.

A painting is viewed from a few steps away. If you get too close, the details appear, but you lose the overall view. This is one of the hypotheses to explain the perception of the world by those on the autistic spectrum, who number 650,000 in France. “It’s true that if you perceive the details of a stimulus (for example, a smile), rather than its main characteristic (its curved shape), it will be more difficult to categorise it and interpret it correctly”, explains Laurie-Anne Sapey-Triomphe, who, for her thesis in neuroscience, is working on understanding how people suffering with autism perceive the world and how they construct internal images from it. In the Lyon Research Centre for Neuroscience at the Université de Lyon 1, she has carried out six studies (surveys, behavioural experiments, MRI studies), whose results underline unusual perception in those suffering from autism. A deeper understanding of this perception and of hypersensitivity could provide a fuller description of autism and facilitate more relevant support in order to better integrate people on a social and professional level. Laurie-Anne Sapey-Triomphe also seeks to raise awareness in the general public to issues relating to autism; she won the first prize in the local final of the competition “My thesis in 180 seconds”.

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For Women in Science

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