Spontaneous and cued gaze-following in autism and Williams syndrome.

Riby, Deborah and Hancock, Peter and Jones, Nicola (2013) Spontaneous and cued gaze-following in autism and Williams syndrome. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 5 (13).

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Background: From a young age the typical development of social functioning relies upon the allocation of
attention to socially relevant information, which in turn allows experience at processing such information and thus
enhances social cognition. As such, research has attempted to identify the developmental processes that are
derailed in some neuro-developmental disorders that impact upon social functioning. Williams syndrome (WS) and
autism are disorders of development that are characterized by atypical yet divergent social phenotypes and
atypicalities of attention to people.
Methods: We used eye tracking to explore how individuals with WS and autism attended to, and subsequently
interpreted, an actor’s eye gaze cue within a social scene. Images were presented for 3 seconds, initially with an
instruction simply to look at the picture. The images were then shown again, with the participant asked to identify
the object being looked at. Allocation of eye gaze in each condition was analyzed by analysis of variance and
accuracy of identification was compared with t tests.
Results: Participants with WS allocated more gaze time to face and eyes than their matched controls, both with
and without being asked to identify the item being looked at; while participants with autism spent less time on
face and eyes in both conditions. When cued to follow gaze, participants with WS increased gaze to the correct
targets; those with autism looked more at the face and eyes but did not increase gaze to the correct targets, while
continuing to look much more than their controls at implausible targets. Both groups identified fewer objects than
their controls.
Conclusions: The atypicalities found are likely to be entwined with the deficits shown in interpreting social
cognitive cues from the images. WS and autism are characterized by atypicalities of social attention that impact
upon socio-cognitive expertise, but, importantly, the type of atypicality is syndrome specific.
Keywords: Williams syndrome, Autism, Gaze behavior, Social attention, Social cognition

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ ), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Science > Psychology
Depositing User: Pauline Bray
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2016 09:23
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2016 15:40
URI: https://hira.hope.ac.uk/id/eprint/777

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