Brief Report: Eye-Movement Patterns During an Embedded Figures Test in Children with ASD

Abstract

The present study examined fixation frequency and duration during an Embedded Figures Test (EFT) in an effort to better understand the attentional and perceptual processes by which individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) achieve accelerated EFT performance. In particular, we aimed to elucidate differences in the patterns of eye-movement in ASD and typically developing (TD) children, thus providing evidence relevant to the competing theories of weak central coherence (WCC) and enhanced perceptual functioning. Consistent with prior EFT studies, we found accelerated response time (RT) in children with ASD. No group differences were seen for fixation frequency, but the ASD group made significantly shorter fixations compared to the TD group. Eye-movement results indicate that RT advantage in ASD is related to both WCC and enhanced perceptual functioning.

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Acknowledgments

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, R01-DC006155, with additional funding from 1T32 DC007361-03 (BK) and NIGMS SDSU MBRS Program 5R25GN58906 (AIR). Special thanks to Natacha Akshoomoff for help in the recruitment of ASD participants, Sylvia Knust for help with data collection, and especially the children and families who generously participated.

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Correspondence to Ralph-Axel Müller.

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Keehn, B., Brenner, L.A., Ramos, A.I. et al. Brief Report: Eye-Movement Patterns During an Embedded Figures Test in Children with ASD. J Autism Dev Disord 39, 383–387 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-008-0608-0

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Keywords

  • Autism
  • Reaction time
  • Visual attention
  • Visual perception
  • Eye movement
  • Eye fixation