Atypical Disengagement from Faces and Its Modulation by the Control of Eye Fixation in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Yukiko Kikuchi
  • Atsushi Senju
  • Hironori Akechi
  • Yoshikuni Tojo
  • Hiroo Osanai
  • Toshikazu Hasegawa
Original Paper

Abstract

By using the gap overlap task, we investigated disengagement from faces and objects in children (9–17 years old) with and without autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and its neurophysiological correlates. In typically developing (TD) children, faces elicited larger gap effect, an index of attentional engagement, and larger saccade-related event-related potentials (ERPs), compared to objects. In children with ASD, by contrast, neither gap effect nor ERPs differ between faces and objects. Follow-up experiments demonstrated that instructed fixation on the eyes induces larger gap effect for faces in children with ASD, whereas instructed fixation on the mouth can disrupt larger gap effect in TD children. These results suggest a critical role of eye fixation on attentional engagement to faces in both groups.

Keywords

Autism spectrum disorder Face Disengagement Saccade-related ERPs Gap overlap task 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yukiko Kikuchi
    • 1
  • Atsushi Senju
    • 2
  • Hironori Akechi
    • 1
  • Yoshikuni Tojo
    • 3
  • Hiroo Osanai
    • 4
  • Toshikazu Hasegawa
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Cognitive and Behavioral Science, Graduate School of Arts and SciencesUniversity of TokyoTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, BirkbeckUniversity of LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Department of Education for Children with DisabilitiesIbaragi UniversityIbarakiJapan
  4. 4.Musashino Higashi Center for Education and ResearchMusashino Higashi GakuenTokyoJapan

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