Analysis of face gaze in autism using “Bubbles. Neuropsychologia, 45, 144-151

Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, California Institute of Technology, HSS 228-77, Caltech, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.
Neuropsychologia (Impact Factor: 3.3). 02/2007; 45(1):144-51. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2006.04.027
Source: PubMed


One of the components of abnormal social functioning in autism is an impaired ability to direct eye gaze onto other people's faces in social situations. Here, we investigated the relationship between gaze onto the eye and mouth regions of faces, and the visual information that was present within those regions. We used the "Bubbles" method to vary the facial information available on any given trial by revealing only small parts of the face, and measured the eye movements made as participants viewed these stimuli. Compared to ten IQ- and age-matched healthy controls, eight participants with autism showed less fixation specificity to the eyes and mouth, a greater tendency to saccade away from the eyes when information was present in those regions, and abnormal directionality of saccades. The findings provide novel detail to the abnormal way in which people with autism look at faces, an impairment that likely influences all subsequent face processing.

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    • "percentage of time watching core facial features , whereas they view non - core feature areas more frequently ( Dalton et al . , 2005 ; Jemel et al . , 2006 ; Spezio et al . , 2007a ; Corden et al . , 2008 ) . In contrast , other studies have failed to find any differences between ASD patients and matched control subjects ( Lahaie et al . , 2006 ; Spezio et al . , 2007b ; Fletcher - Watson et al . , 2009 ) . With specific consideration of the mouth region , the results also remain unclear , since the differences between groups were small , particularly when static neutral pictures were used ( for review see Klin et al . , 1999 ; Jemel et al . , 2006 ; Rutherford and Towns , 2008 ; Falck - Ytter and von"
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    • "It is possible that atypical gaze behavior toward a nonspeaking static facial expression in individuals with ASD could be related to age. Adults with ASD have exhibited shorter fixation durations on the eyes or longer fixation durations on the mouth than those with typical development [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17]. However, studies of children or adolescents with ASD have not found such differences [18] [19] [20] and have indicated that children with ASD have the same gaze behavior as typically developing children for facial expressions. "
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    • "Social content and image complexity Spezio et al., 2007 PWA: n ϭ 8, mean age "
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