Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 148–157 | Cite as

Patterns of Visual Attention to Faces and Objects in Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • James C. McPartland
  • Sara Jane Webb
  • Brandon Keehn
  • Geraldine Dawson
Original paper


This study used eye-tracking to examine visual attention to faces and objects in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and typical peers. Point of gaze was recorded during passive viewing of images of human faces, inverted human faces, monkey faces, three-dimensional curvilinear objects, and two-dimensional geometric patterns. Individuals with ASD obtained lower scores on measures of face recognition and social-emotional functioning but exhibited similar patterns of visual attention. In individuals with ASD, face recognition performance was associated with social adaptive function. Results highlight heterogeneity in manifestation of social deficits in ASD and suggest that naturalistic assessments are important for quantifying atypicalities in visual attention.


Autism spectrum disorder Asperger syndrome Face perception Visual attention Eye-tracking Face recognition 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • James C. McPartland
    • 1
  • Sara Jane Webb
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Brandon Keehn
    • 5
    • 6
  • Geraldine Dawson
    • 3
    • 7
    • 8
  1. 1.Yale Child Study CenterNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  4. 4.Center for Child Health, Behavior and DevelopmentSeattle Children’s Research InstituteSeattleUSA
  5. 5.San Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  6. 6.University of CaliforniaSan DiegoUSA
  7. 7.Autism SpeaksNashvilleUSA
  8. 8.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA

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