How Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Spontaneously Attend to Real-World Scenes: Use of a Change Blindness Paradigm and Eye-Tracking

Poster Presentation
Friday, May 11, 2018: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Hall Grote Zaal (de Doelen ICC Rotterdam)
M. Hochhauser1 and O. Grynszpan2, (1)Ariel University, Ariel, Israel, (2)LIMSI CNRS UPR3251, Université Paris-Sud, Orsay, France
Background: Change blindness paradigms involve tasks that hinder automatic visual detection of change. The detection of changes in the environment is typically dependent on attentional processes. Studies in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have demonstrated mixed evidence of strengths in change detection tasks. To our knowledge, eye-tracking has never been used before to investigate this issue.

Objectives: a) Compare performances of TD and ASD young adults when detecting marginal versus central change; b) Use eye-tracking to compare first fixations and total fixation time on change between the groups.

Methods: Twenty ASD and 20 matched TD young adults aged 19- 25 years viewed 36 pairs of digitized real-world images. The images in a pair differed by only one item and were displayed in a ‘flicker paradigm’ whereby this item alternately appeared and disappeared. This item was either a central or a marginal detail of the scene. Upon change detection, response times were collected and visual fixation on the changing item were recorded by an eye-tracker.

Results: ASD young adults were significantly slower in response time and time to first fixation than TD young adults but did not have significantly longer fixation duration.

Conclusions: ASD young adults showed reduced processing speed and did not outperform TD young adults in attention to marginal details in real-world scenes nor demonstrate different gaze behavior, challenging current theories on higher abilities of ASD individuals to process local details.