June 2007
Volume 7, Issue 9
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   June 2007
Is superior visual search in autism due to memory in search?
Author Affiliations
  • Todd Horowitz
    Brigham & Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School
  • Jeremy Wolfe
    Brigham & Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School
  • Brandon Keehn
    University of California, San Diego
  • Christine Connolly
    Boston University School of Medicine
  • Robert Joseph
    Boston University School of Medicine
Journal of Vision June 2007, Vol.7, 712. doi:10.1167/7.9.712
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      Todd Horowitz, Jeremy Wolfe, Brandon Keehn, Christine Connolly, Robert Joseph; Is superior visual search in autism due to memory in search?. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):712. doi: 10.1167/7.9.712.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Plaisted and colleagues (J Child Psychol Psychiatry, 1998; JEP:HPP, 2001) demonstrated that children with autism are superior to typically developing children at visual search. They suggested that this superiority might be mediated by better memory for rejected distractors in autism. Horowitz & Wolfe (Nature, 1998) have previously argued that typical adults use little or no memory for rejected distractors. This conclusion relied on the randomized search paradigm in which a static control condition is compared to a dynamic condition in which stimuli are continually replotted during a trial, preventing any use of memory. If observers use memory in the static condition, RT X set size slopes would double in the dynamic condition. Studies on typical adults show similar slopes in the two conditions, though mean RTs are higher for dynamic search. We repeated this experiment with 18 children with autism and an age- and IQ-matched control group of typically developing children (ages 7–19). Measures of eye movement and RT were collected. The autism group responded faster than the control group. However, static and dynamic search were equally efficient for both groups. Children with autism do not use memory differently. Instead, they seem to respond more quickly once they locate a target. Analysis of eye movement patterns showed few differences between conditions or groups. Notably, neither group showed evidence of “sitting-and-waiting” for the target to come to them in the dynamic condition (c.f. von Mïhlenen et al., Psychol Sci, 2003).

Horowitz, T. Wolfe, J. Keehn, B. Connolly, C. Joseph, R. (2007). Is superior visual search in autism due to memory in search? [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 7(9):712, 712a, http://journalofvision.org/7/9/712/, doi:10.1167/7.9.712. [CrossRef]
 NICHD/NIDCD CPEA U19-DC-03610, NIMH K01-MH-073944, AFOSR F49620-97-1-0045

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