Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Do Not Preferentially Attend to Biological Motion
Preferential attention to biological motion can be seen in typically developing infants in the first few days of life and is thought to be an important precursor in the development of social communication. We examined whether children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) aged 3–7 years preferentially attend to point-light displays depicting biological motion. We found that children with ASD did not preferentially attend to biological motion over phase-scrambled motion, but did preferentially attend to a point-light display of a spinning top rather than a human walker. In contrast a neurotypical matched control group preferentially attended to the human, biological motion in both conditions. The results suggest a core deficit in attending to biological motion in ASD.
KeywordsAutism spectrum disorder Social stimuli Attention Biological motion
This research was supported by an E.S.R.C. Grant (RES 000 23 1148) awarded to John Swettenham, Elizabeth Milne and Ruth Campbell at University College London. We are gratefully acknowledge the efforts of staff and pupils at schools and nurseries in Aberdeen who participated in the research.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2006). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 4e., text rev. (DSM-IV-TR). Washington, DC: APA.Google Scholar
- Chawarska, K., Klin, A., & Volkmar, F. R. (2008). Autism Spectrum Disorders in Infantsand Toddlers: Diagnosis, Assessment and Treatment Guildford Press.Google Scholar
- Dawson, G., Webb, S. J., Wijsman, E., Schellenberg, G., Estes, A., Munson, J., et al. (2005). Neurocognitive and electrophysiological evidence of altered face processing in parents of children with autism: Implications for a model of abnormal development of social brain circuitry in autism. Development and Psychopathology, 17(3), 679–697.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Dunn, L., Dunn, L., Whetton, C., & Burley, J. (1997). British Picture Vocabulary Scale II: Windsor: NEFR-Nelson.Google Scholar
- Elliot, C. D., Smith, P., & McCulloch, K. (1997). British Ability Scales II: Windsor: NFER-Nelson.Google Scholar
- Hubert, B., Wicker, B., Moore, D. G., Monfardini, E., Duverger, H., Da Fonséca, D., et al. (2007). Brief report: recognition of emotional and non-emotional biological motion in individuals with autistic spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37(7), 1386–1392.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Jones, C., Swettenham, J., Happé, F., Marsden, A., Tregay, J., Baird, G., et al. (Submitted). Visual motion processing in autism spectrum disorders: exploring the profile of ability across a hierarchy of tasks.Google Scholar
- Lord, C., Risi, S., Lambrecht, L., Cook, E. H., Leventhal, B. L., DiLavore, P. C., et al. (2000). The autism diagnostic observation schedule-generic: A standard measure of social and communication deficits associated with the spectrum of autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorder, 30(3), 205–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Swettenham, J., Baron-Cohen, S., Cox, A., Baird, G., Drew, A., Charman, T., et al. (1998). The frequency and distribution of spontaneous attention shifts between social and nonsocial stimuli in autistic, typically developing, and nonautistic developmentally delayed infants. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 39(5), 747–753.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Vallortigara, G., & Regolin, L. (2006). Gravity bias in the interpretation of biological motion by inexperienced chicks. Current Biology, 16(8).Google Scholar