, Volume 41, Issue 11, pp 1556-1564
Date: 05 Feb 2011

The Role of Alexithymia in Reduced Eye-Fixation in Autism Spectrum Conditions

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Abstract

Eye-tracking studies have demonstrated mixed support for reduced eye fixation when looking at social scenes in individuals with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC). We present evidence that these mixed findings are due to a separate condition—alexithymia—that is frequently comorbid with ASC. We find that in adults with ASC, autism symptom severity correlated negatively with attention to faces when watching video clips. However, only the degree of alexithymia, and not autism symptom severity, predicted eye fixation. As well as potentially resolving the contradictory evidence in this area, these findings suggest that individuals with ASC and alexithymia may form a sub-group of individuals with ASC, with emotional impairments in addition to the social impairments characteristic of ASC.