October 2020
Volume 20, Issue 11
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   October 2020
Gaze perception and the integration of head and pupil rotations on 2D and 3D robotic models: Typical development and the impact of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Diana Mihalache
    University of Denver
  • Peter Sokol-Hessner
    University of Denver
  • Huanghao Feng
    University of Denver
  • Farzaneh Askari
    McGill University
  • Eric J. Moody
    Wyoming Institute for Disabilities, University of Wyoming
  • Nuri Reyes
    JFK Partners, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
  • Mohammad H. Mahoor
    University of Denver
  • Timothy D. Sweeny
    University of Denver
  • Footnotes
    Acknowledgements  This study was supported by Grant R15HD090581 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health.
Journal of Vision October 2020, Vol.20, 1245. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.1245
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      Diana Mihalache, Peter Sokol-Hessner, Huanghao Feng, Farzaneh Askari, Eric J. Moody, Nuri Reyes, Mohammad H. Mahoor, Timothy D. Sweeny; Gaze perception and the integration of head and pupil rotations on 2D and 3D robotic models: Typical development and the impact of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):1245. https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.1245.

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

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Gaze perception is an integrative visual process in which another person’s direction of attention is inferred by the rotation of their pupils and head. Yet the empirical study of gaze has largely focused on a single cue—the eyes. While this literature suggests that gaze perception is shaped by typical and atypical development, as in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), it may not capture how gaze is actually seen, as an emergent feature. Our goal was to understand how the integrative process of gaze perception unfolds in and is accounted for by typical and atypical development across individuals. We thus examined emergent gaze among children and adolescents (ages 7-17) who are typically-developing (N=26; Age M= 10.5; SD= 2.21) or with ASD (N = 25; Age M = 10.7; SD = 2.58). Observers viewed faces with multiple combinations of head and pupil rotations and indicated whether gaze was directed leftward or rightward, both on 2D faces and a physically-present, 3D robot. We thus quantified emergent gaze across a range of stimulus complexities and sidestepped the anxiety of human interaction, effectively capturing both 2D- and 3D-gaze perception in our ASD sample. Using multiple logistic regression, we measured the extent to which each observer relied on the head and eyes. Building on our previous work, we found that both typically-developing and ASD groups utilized head and pupil rotations to judge 2D gaze. Relative to 2D judgments, pupil use increased for 3D faces whereas head use was more inconsistent across individuals. Reliance on both of these cues was reduced among observers with ASD. Additionally, pupil use increased with age independent of ASD diagnosis. This work demonstrates that emergent gaze perception is a slowly developing process that is surprisingly intact, albeit weakened in ASD, and also illustrates how new technology can bridge visual and clinical science.


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