Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 46, Issue 6, pp 2199–2210 | Cite as

Electrophysiological Evidence of Atypical Spatial Attention in Those with a High Level of Self-reported Autistic Traits

  • Stephanie A. Dunn
  • Megan Freeth
  • Elizabeth Milne
Original Paper


Selective attention is atypical in individuals with autism spectrum conditions. Evidence suggests this is also the case for those with high levels of autistic traits. Here we investigated the neural basis of spatial attention in those with high and low levels of self-reported autistic traits via analysis of ERP deflections associated with covert attention, target selection and distractor suppression (the N2pc, NT and PD). Larger N2pc and smaller PD amplitude was observed in those with high levels of autistic traits. These data provide neural evidence for differences in spatial attention, specifically, reduced distractor suppression in those with high levels of autistic traits, and may provide insight into the experience of perceptual overload often reported by individuals on the autism spectrum.


Autistic traits ERP Selective attention Spatial attention N2pc 


Author Contributions

SD conceived of, designed and co-ordinated the studies; analysed and interpreted data and drafted the manuscript; EM participated in the analysis and interpretation of the data and drafting of the manuscript; MF participated in the interpretation of the data and drafting of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephanie A. Dunn
    • 1
  • Megan Freeth
    • 1
  • Elizabeth Milne
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe University of SheffieldWestern Bank, SheffieldUK

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