Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 46, Issue 8, pp 2797–2805 | Cite as

Brief Report: Cognitive Control of Social and Nonsocial Visual Attention in Autism

  • Antoinette Sabatino DiCriscio
  • Stephanie J. Miller
  • Eleanor K. Hanna
  • Megan Kovac
  • Lauren Turner-Brown
  • Noah J. Sasson
  • Jeffrey Sapyta
  • Vanessa Troiani
  • Gabriel S. Dichter
Brief Report


Prosaccade and antisaccade errors in the context of social and nonsocial stimuli were investigated in youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD; n = 19) a matched control sample (n = 19), and a small sample of youth with obsessive compulsive disorder (n = 9). Groups did not differ in error rates in the prosaccade condition for any stimulus category. In the antisaccade condition, the ASD group demonstrated more errors than the control group for nonsocial stimuli related to circumscribed interests, but not for other nonsocial stimuli or for social stimuli. Additionally, antisaccade error rates were predictive of core ASD symptom severity. Results indicate that the cognitive control of visual attention in ASD is impaired specifically in the context of nonsocial stimuli related to circumscribed interests.


Autism spectrum disorder Visual attention Cognitive control Eyetracking 



We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the families who participated in this study. This research was supported by MH081285, MH073402, HD079124, by a UNC Jessie Ball DuPont Dissertation Fellowship to MK and by a UNC Graduate School Summer Research Fellowship to ASD.

Author Contributions

The first author, ASD, worked closely with GD regarding the conception, design, analysis, and interpretation of the data. SJM, EH, and MK made contributed substantially with data acquistion. Authors made significant contributions to drafting or revising the article or contributed to the intellectual content. This study was a portion of the dissertation of ASD under the supervision of GD.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antoinette Sabatino DiCriscio
    • 1
    • 7
  • Stephanie J. Miller
    • 2
  • Eleanor K. Hanna
    • 3
  • Megan Kovac
    • 4
  • Lauren Turner-Brown
    • 2
  • Noah J. Sasson
    • 5
  • Jeffrey Sapyta
    • 6
  • Vanessa Troiani
    • 7
  • Gabriel S. Dichter
    • 1
    • 2
    • 8
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and NeuroscienceThe University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Carolina Institute for Developmental DisabilitiesThe University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of MedicineChapel HillUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychology and NeuroscienceDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  4. 4.School Psychology Program, School of EducationThe University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  5. 5.School of Behavioral and Brain SciencesThe University of Texas at DallasRichardsonUSA
  6. 6.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesDuke University School of MedicineDurhamUSA
  7. 7.Geisinger Health SystemGeisinger Autism and Developmental Medicine Institute (ADMI)LewisburgUSA
  8. 8.Department of PsychiatryThe University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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