September 2015
Volume 15, Issue 12
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2015
Do Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorder Process Own- and Other-Race Faces Differently?
Author Affiliations
  • Li Yi
    Department of Psychology, Sun Yat-sen University
  • Paul Quinn
    Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Delaware
  • Cong Feng
    Institute of Logic and Cognition, Sun Yat-sen University
  • Kang Lee
    Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study, University of Toronto
Journal of Vision September 2015, Vol.15, 649. doi:
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      Li Yi, Paul Quinn, Cong Feng, Kang Lee; Do Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorder Process Own- and Other-Race Faces Differently?. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):649.

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

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A growing literature has demonstrated a robust other-race effect (ORE) in typically developing (TD) individuals. That is, they recognize and discriminate own-race faces more accurately than faces from other racial groups. Considering that there is inconsistency in the evidence regarding the existence of a behavioral ORE in autism spectrum disorder (ASD; Chien et al., 2014; Wilson, 2011), we investigated face scanning patterns using eye tracking, to provide a different measure of processing race information from faces. It has been shown that Chinese observers tend to focus on the central region (i.e., the nose) of Chinese faces and the eye region of Caucasian faces (Fu et al., 2012; Liu et al., 2011). The present study examined whether individuals with ASD would, like typical individuals, show differential patterns of visual scanning when viewing own- and other-race faces. The study included Chinese adolescents and young adults with ASD, age-matched TD individuals, and IQ-matched individuals with intellectual disability (ID). Participants completed a face recognition task with both Chinese and Caucasian faces, while their eye movements were tracked. Results indicated that (a) in terms of recognition, the ASD and ID groups, although not the TD group (due to a ceiling effect), displayed superior recognition of own-race relative to other-race faces; (b) different from TD and ID groups, individuals with ASD showed atypical face processing patterns regardless of face race; (c) similar to TD and ID individuals, individuals with ASD fixated on the eyes of other-race faces longer than those of own-race faces, whereas they looked at the nose and mouth of own-race faces longer than those of other-race faces. The results suggest that similar to TD individuals, individuals with ASD are sensitive to face race information: their visual scanning and recognition of faces are both influenced by asymmetrical experience with different types of faces.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015


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