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