Brief Report: When Large Becomes Slow: Zooming-Out Visual Attention Is Associated to Orienting Deficits in Autism
Previous studies independently demonstrated impairments in rapid orienting/disengagement and zooming-out of spatial attention in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These attentional mechanisms, however, are not completely independent. Aiming at a more complete picture of spatial attention deficits in ASD, we examined the relationship between orienting and zooming in participants with ASD and typically developing peers. We modified a classical spatial cuing task, presenting two small or large cues in the two visual hemifields and subsequently cueing attention to one of them. Our results demonstrate a sluggish orienting mechanism in ASD only when a large attentional focus is deployed. Moreover, only the sluggish orienting mechanism in the large cues condition predicts the severity in the social-interaction symptomatology in individuals with ASD.
KeywordsVision Perception Attention Zoom-lens Autism spectrum disorders
The contributions of staff members from the Scientific Institute “E. Medea” (Bosisio Parini) and of Dr. Gialuigi Visentini from “Associazione La Nostra Famiglia” (Padova) as well as of participants with ASD and their families are gratefully acknowledged. This work was supported by grants from the University of Padua (“Junior Post-Doc Researcher 2014–2016” to A.F. and L.R., “Senior Post Doc Researcher 2014–2016” to S.G., “Progetti di Eccellenza CARIPARO 2012–2014 rep. no. 1873/2012” to L.R., S.G., and A.F.).
LR, SG and AF designed the study. LR and MD collected the data. LR and AF analyzed the data. MM provided supervision for clinical characterization of the participants. LR wrote the manuscript with support and critical revisions from all the co-authors.
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