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Nicholas Russell, David Top, Mikle South, Steven Luke; Differences in Search Mechanics for Anxious Individuals and Individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder During Real-World Visual Search Tasks. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):656. doi: 10.1167/18.10.656.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Introduction: Superiority in visual search tasks is often seen in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and is frequently attributed to perceptual differences in visual processing (either a preference for local processing or a difficulty with global processing). Recent research, however, has suggested that these differences may instead be related to an atypical attentional system. In addition, research has also suggested that individuals with ASD may no longer demonstrate a visual search advantage when those searches involve real-world scenes. Similarly, differences in visual search have been seen in individuals with anxiety, compared to non-anxious typically developing (TD) individuals. Despite the high prevalence of anxiety symptoms in ASD, the extent to which these altered visual search profiles overlap had not been investigated. Method: Individuals with ASD (N = 30), anxiety (N = 27), and typically developing (TD) individuals (N = 49) completed two simple visual search tasks (41 trials of each) with real-world scenes (one to find a digit superimposed on the scene and the other to find an object placed in a contextually-relevant location). Eye movements were recorded to quantify three stages of the search process: initiation time (start of trial to first saccade), scan time (first saccade to first target fixation), and verification time (first target fixation to response). Results: Across conditions, the ASD group required longer initiation time than the anxiety and TD groups. Both the ASD and anxiety groups had a longer scan time and verification time than the TD group but were similar to each other. Conclusion: With real-world scenes, those with ASD and anxiety require more time for real-world visual search. The only aspect of search mechanics uniquely difficult for those with ASD is initiation time. This is consistent with theories proposing a difficulty disengaging attention as underlying real-world visual search difficulties in those with ASD.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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