How Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Spontaneously Attend to Real-Life Scenes: Use of a "Change Blindness" Paradigm
Objectives: To compare the visual attention of adolescents with and without (ASD) when viewing real-life stimuli by measuring the response times between the time observers were asked to search for a change in a visual stimulus task and the time they detected the change.
Methods: Twenty-eight adolescents with high-functioning ASD aged 12- 18 years and 25 matched TD adolescents viewed 36 pairs of digitized photographs. Each pair was identical apart from a single difference in the presence or absence of a particular item. This item was either a central component of the scene depicted on the photograph or was a marginal detail. The images were displayed in a ‘flicker paradigm’ whereby the item alternately appeared and disappeared.
Results: As expected marginal details were harder to detect than central components of the scenes. However, the pattern of response times did not differ significantly between the two groups of participants.
Conclusions: Adolescents with ASD did not demonstrate different change blindness behavior compared with TD. These results, although supported by previous findings using a similar paradigm, challenge the hypothesis of superior visual detection abilities in ASD and warrant further analysis