Gaze Patterns of Individuals with ASD During Active Task Engagement: a Systematic Literature Review
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Despite the increasing number of studies investigating eye gaze patterns in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) during passive viewing of stimuli, few studies have focused on gaze behaviour of people with ASD during active task engagement. Active engagement may cue these individuals to allocate gaze to task-related information and display typical eye gaze patterns, whereas in the absence of cues, they demonstrate weak central coherence and tend to allocate attention to specific, yet irrelevant, visual detail in the environment. If individuals with ASD are exhibiting typical eye gaze patterns when engaged in everyday tasks, then interventions targeting gaze remediation may be misguided. The present review, therefore, aimed to investigate whether (1) individuals with ASD consistently exhibited atypical eye gaze patterns when actively engaged in tasks and (2) atypical eye gaze was associated with skill deficits in regard to task performance. Typical gaze patterns were found during reading, following instructions, and memory tasks, while atypical gaze patterns were evident in driving, word learning, and imitation tasks. Atypical gaze patterns were only associated with impairments in imitation performance, whereas individuals with ASD and typically developing controls performed equally on word learning and driving tasks, suggesting that atypical gaze patterns were not associated with a general performance deficit.
KeywordsEye-tracking Visual attention Autism spectrum disorder Active engagement Systematic review
I would like to thank Andrew Garas—the “second independent researcher” for his assistance on this project.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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