Skin Conductance Responses to Another Person’s Gaze in Children with Autism

  • Anneli KylliäinenEmail author
  • Jari K. Hietanen


The effects of another person’s gaze on physiological arousal were investigated by measuring skin conductance responses (SCR). Twelve able children with autism and 12 control children were shown face stimuli with straight gaze (eye contact) or averted gaze on a computer monitor. In children with autism, the responses to straight gaze were stronger than responses to averted gaze, whereas there was no difference in the responses to these gaze conditions in normally developing children. Thus, these results showed that eye gaze elicited differential pattern of SCR in normally developing children and in children with autism. It is possible that the enhanced arousal to eye contact may contribute to the abnormal gaze behaviour frequently reported in the context of autism.


High functioning autism skin conductance responses electrodermal activity eye contact gaze direction 



This research was supported by the Finnish Academy (project #50898) and the Finnish Cultural Foundation. We are very grateful to all the parents and children who participated in this research. We would also like to thank Prof. Anthony Bailey and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TampereTampereFinland
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TampereTampereFinland

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