Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 43, Issue 8, pp 1880–1894 | Cite as

Viewing Social Scenes: A Visual Scan-Path Study Comparing Fragile X Syndrome and Williams Syndrome

  • Tracey A. WilliamsEmail author
  • Melanie A. Porter
  • Robyn Langdon
Original Paper


Fragile X syndrome (FXS) and Williams syndrome (WS) are both genetic disorders which present with similar cognitive-behavioral problems, but distinct social phenotypes. Despite these social differences both syndromes display poor social relations which may result from abnormal social processing. This study aimed to manipulate the location of socially salient information within scenes to investigate the visual attentional mechanisms of: capture, disengagement, and/or general engagement. Findings revealed that individuals with FXS avoid social information presented centrally, at least initially. The WS findings, on the other hand, provided some evidence that difficulties with attentional disengagement, rather than attentional capture, may play a role in the WS social phenotype. These findings are discussed in relation to the distinct social phenotypes of these two disorders.


Fragile X syndrome FXS Williams syndrome WS Social processing Attentional disengagement Attentional capture Eye-tracking 



Our thanks go to all the participants and their families for their time and enthusiasm. We would also like to thank the Fragile X Association of Australia and Hunter Genetics at Hunter New England Health for their support, as well as Samantha Baggott and Alan Taylor for their helpful suggestions with regards to content and statistics.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tracey A. Williams
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Melanie A. Porter
    • 1
    • 2
  • Robyn Langdon
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Cognitive Science, ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its DisordersMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its DisordersMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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