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Li Yi, Yuebo Fan, Paul C. Quinn, Cong Feng, Dan Huang, Jiao Li, Guoquan Mao, Kang Lee; Abnormality in face scanning by children with autism spectrum disorder is limited to the eye region: Evidence from multi-method analyses of eye tracking data. Journal of Vision 2013;13(10):5. doi: 10.1167/13.10.5.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
There has been considerable controversy regarding whether children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and typically developing children (TD) show different eye movement patterns when processing faces. We investigated ASD and age- and IQ-matched TD children's scanning of faces using a novel multi-method approach. We found that ASD children spent less time looking at the whole face generally. After controlling for this difference, ASD children's fixations of the other face parts, except for the eye region, and their scanning paths between face parts were comparable either to the age-matched or IQ-matched TD groups. In contrast, in the eye region, ASD children's scanning differed significantly from that of both TD groups: (a) ASD children fixated significantly less on the right eye (from the observer's view); (b) ASD children's fixations were more biased towards the left eye region; and (c) ASD children fixated below the left eye, whereas TD children fixated on the pupil region of the eye. Thus, ASD children do not have a general abnormality in face scanning. Rather, their abnormality is limited to the eye region, likely due to their strong tendency to avoid eye contact.
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