August 2016
Volume 16, Issue 12
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2016
Attention capture by faces and trains: A developmental study
Author Affiliations
  • Allison Brennan
    Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University
  • Elina Birmingham
    Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University
  • Grace Iarocci
    Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University
Journal of Vision September 2016, Vol.16, 1255. doi:10.1167/16.12.1255
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      Allison Brennan, Elina Birmingham, Grace Iarocci; Attention capture by faces and trains: A developmental study. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):1255. doi: 10.1167/16.12.1255.

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

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There is evidence that faces capture attention during visual search (Langton, Law, Burton, & Schweinberger, 2008). However faces do not capture the attention of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to the same extent (Riby, Brown, Jones, & Hanley, 2012). Whereas individuals with ASD show less preferential processing of faces, objects in which they are interested and with which they have developed expertise have been shown to capture attention (McGugin, McKeeff, Tong, & Gauthier, 2011). In an effort to understand this possible interaction between face and special interest object processing in individuals with ASD, we conducted a visual search experiment with children with ASD (ages 7-12) and compared their performance to that of their age and IQ matched peers, and adults without ASD. Participants searched for a target in an array of distractors, which included faces, trains (the most common special interest object among children with ASD), and various neutral object categories that were not of special interest (e.g., chairs, clocks, fruit). Contrary to our hypothesis that faces would capture attention to a greater extent than trains, we found that the presence of either a face or a train slowed response times relative to the neutral distractors for all participants. Why do faces and trains capture the attention of children and adults to the same extent? We explore this question with a developmental and methodological focus.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016


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