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Eye movements affirm: automatic overt gaze and arrow cueing for typical adults and adults with autism spectrum disorder

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-165
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Volume201
Issue number2
Early online date2 Oct 2009
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Abstract

People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show reduced interest towards social aspects of the environment and a lesser tendency to follow other people’s gaze in the real world. However, most studies have shown that people with ASD do respond to eye-gaze cues in experimental paradigms, though it is possible that this behaviour is based on an atypical strategy. We tested this possibility in adults with ASD using a cueing task combined with eye-movement recording. Both eye gaze and arrow pointing distractors resulted in overt cueing effects, both in terms of increased saccadic reaction times, and in proportions of saccades executed to the cued direction instead of to the target, for both participant groups. Our results confirm previous reports that eye gaze cues as well as arrow cues result in automatic orienting of overt attention. Moreover, since there were no group differences between arrow and eye gaze cues, we conclude that overt attentional orienting in ASD, at least in response to centrally presented schematic directional distractors, is typical.

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