Cognitive granularity: A new perspective over autistic and non-autistic styles of development

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Individuals with autism generally show better performance on operating physical objects than in communicating with people. However, we lack a plausible model of autism that explains why their physical and social capabilities develop in separate and unbalanced ways. This paper investigates this question from the viewpoint of "cognitive granularity," which refers to the size of the basic elements operable in one's cognitive system. While it is constrained by one's perceptual and motor resolution, cognitive granularity determines the level of abstraction at which one can efficiently predict and control the physical and social world. Recent findings in autism research, including preference for causal predictability and abnormalities in neuroanatomical density, suggest that individuals with autism have finer cognitive granularity; they live in a different "Umwelt" from that which non-autistic people experience. The difference in cognitive granularity explains not only autistic individuals' unbalanced development as well as their difficulty in understanding others' minds, but also the spectrum of developmental styles in the entire population. Finally, from this unified perspective, we also discuss possible therapeutic interventions for autism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-174
Number of pages7
JournalJapanese Psychological Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Apr
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism
  • Cognitive style
  • Minicolumn
  • Prediction and control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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