Brief Report: Circumscribed Attention in Young Children with Autism

School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas, GR41 800 West Campbell Road, Richardson, TX 75080, USA.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (Impact Factor: 3.06). 05/2010; 41(2):242-7. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-010-1038-3
Source: PubMed


School-aged children and adolescents with autism demonstrate circumscribed attentional patterns to nonsocial aspects of complex visual arrays (Sasson et al. 2008). The current study downward extended these findings to a sample of 2-5 year-olds with autism and 2-5 year-old typically developing children. Eye-tracking was used to quantify discrete aspects of visual attention to picture arrays containing combinations of social pictures, pictures of objects frequently involved in circumscribed interests in persons with autism (e.g., trains), and pictures of more commonplace objects (e.g., clothing). The children with autism exhibited greater exploration and perseverative attention on objects related to circumscribed interests than did typically developing children. Results suggest that circumscribed attention may be an early emerging characteristic of autism.

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Available from: Gabriel Dichter, Jan 13, 2014
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    • " in the Appendix of Dichter et al . , 2012a ) . These images were derived from categories of common restricted interests in ASD ( South et al . , 2005 ) , have been shown to differentially activate brain reward circuitry in ASD ( Dichter et al . , 2012a ) , to elicit great visual attention in children and adults with ASD in eyetracking paradigms ( Sasson et al . , 2011 , 2008 ) , and rated as more pleasing by individuals with ASD ( Sasson et al . , 2012 ) . These stimuli are referred to here as high autism interest ( HAI ) stimuli . We note that , although the DSM defines restricted interests to be idiosyncratic and person - specific , and although idiosyncratic restricted interests have been used in "
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    ABSTRACT: An econometric choice task was used to estimate the implicit reward value of social and non-social stimuli related to restricted interests in children and adolescents with (n = 12) and without (n = 22) autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Mixed effects logistic regression analyses revealed that groups differed in valuation of images related to restricted interests: control children were indifferent to cash payouts to view these images, but children with ASD were willing to receive less cash payout to view these images. Groups did not differ in valuation of social images or non-social images not related to restricted interests. Results highlight that motivational accounts of ASD should also consider the reward value of non-social stimuli related to restricted interests in ASD (Dichter and Adolphs, 2012).
    Frontiers in Psychology 08/2015; 6:1026. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01026 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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    • "The present results connect three ‘dots' in the literature 1) that the LC-NE system is a modulator of attentional state and consequently task performance, 2) that the LC-NE system has been implicated in ASD etiology, and 3) that the clinical profile of ASD includes intense attentional focus as well as resistance to disengagement to certain classes of stimuli42 that may be related to restricted behaviors and interests43. In a recent review of the literature of visual search and ASD11, we do find evidence for perceptual differences at play. "
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    ABSTRACT: Research on the neural underpinnings of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has focussed primarily on impairments of social interaction and communication. Less is known though about the second diagnostic criterion of restricted behaviors and interests. Uniquely in this domain, alongside impairments stands an 'ASD advantage' characterised by superior performance on many visual tasks. We recently found that 2-year-olds with ASD dramatically outperform age-matched, typically developing controls on visual search. Here we use task-evoked, phasic pupil responses - a sensitive, involuntary measure of effort and a biomarker of the locus coeruleus-norepinephrine (LC-NE) system's modulation of attention - to isolate a causal factor: a 'hyperphasic' LC-NE system compels (here, advantageously) focussed attention. However, this focussed attention in other contexts may contribute to restricted behaviors and interests.
    Scientific Reports 03/2014; 4:4301. DOI:10.1038/srep04301 · 5.58 Impact Factor
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    • "Coordinates are in MNI space to HAI oddball targets in multiple frontostriatal brain regions that mediate cognitive control, including the caudate nucleus, left inferior frontal gyrus, anterior cingulate gyrus, and right middle frontal gyrus, (Fan et al. 2005; Kirino et al. 2000; Huettel 2004). We have demonstrated previously with multiple methodologies (i.e., behavioral ratings (Sasson et al. 2012), eye-tracking (Sasson et al. 2008, 2011), and functional brain imaging (Dichter et al. 2012a, b; Richey et al. 2013) that social and HAI stimuli have different motivational value for individuals with autism. Cognitive control is impacted by the motivational value of the information being processed (Padmala and Pessoa 2010, 2011; Krebs et al. 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: This study investigated cognitive control of social and nonsocial information in autism using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and a neurotypical control group completed an oddball target detection task where target stimuli were either faces or nonsocial objects previously shown to be related to circumscribed interests in autism. The ASD group demonstrated relatively increased activation to social targets in right insular cortex and in left superior frontal gyrus and relatively decreased activation to nonsocial targets related to circumscribed interests in multiple frontostriatal brain regions. Findings suggest that frontostriatal recruitment during cognitive control in ASD is contingent on stimulus type, with increased activation for social stimuli and decreased activation for nonsocial stimuli related to circumscribed interests.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 05/2013; 43(12). DOI:10.1007/s10803-013-1837-4 · 3.06 Impact Factor
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