Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Continuing Commentary
Commentary on William A. Phillips & Steven M. Silverstein (2003). Convergence of biological and psychological perspectives on cognitive coordination in schizophrenia. BBS 26(1):65–82.

Autism and schizophrenia: Similar perceptual consequence, different neurobiological etiology?

Armando Bertone a1, Laurent Mottron a2 and Jocelyn Faubert a1
a1 Visual Psychophysics and Perception Laboratory, École d'optométrie, Université de Montréal, Montréal, H3C 1C1, Canada
a2 Clinique specialisee des Troubles Envahissants du Developpement, Hôpital Rivière-des-Prairies, Montréal, H1E 1A4, Canada


Phillips & Silverstein (P&S, 2003) propose that NMDA-receptor dysfunction may be the fundamental neurobiological mechanism underlying and associating impaired holistic perception and cognitive coordination with schizophrenic psychopathology. We discuss how the P&S hypothesis shares different aspects of the weak central coherence account of autism from both theoretical and experimental perspectives. Specifically, we believe that neither those persons with autism nor those with schizophrenia integrate visuo-perceptual information efficiently, resulting in incongruous internal representations of their external world. However, although NMDA-hypofunction may be responsible for perceptual impairments in schizophrenia and possibly autism, we suggest that it is highly unlikely that NMDA-hypofunction is specifically responsible for the autistic behavioral symptomology, as described by P&S in their target article.