Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 48, Issue 8, pp 2821–2831 | Cite as

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Prefer Looking at Repetitive Movements in a Preferential Looking Paradigm

  • Qiandong Wang
  • Yixiao Hu
  • Dejun Shi
  • Yaoxin Zhang
  • Xiaobing Zou
  • Sheng Li
  • Fang Fang
  • Li Yi
Original Paper


The present study aimed to investigate the visual preference for repetitive movements in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Young children with ASD and typically-developing (TD) children were presented simultaneously with cartoons depicting repetitive and random movements respectively, while their eye-movements were recorded. We found that: (1) the children with ASD spent more time fixating on the repetitive movements than the random movements, whereas the TD children showed no preference for either type of movements; (2) the children’s preference for the repetitive movements was correlated with the parent reports of their repetitive behaviors. Our findings show a promise in using the preferential looking as a potential indicator for the repetitive behaviors and aiding early screening of ASD in future investigations.


Autism spectrum disorder Repetitive behavior Visual repetitive movement Eye movement Visual preference 



This study was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (31571135, 31470974) and Beijing Municipal Science & Technology Commission (Z171100000117015). The authors are grateful to Xiaoyan Chen, Jiayun Guo, Yifang Weng, Sinong Chen, Dr. Lisa Joseph, Dr. Junhao Pan, Tianbi Li, and staff in the Third Affiliated Hospital in Sun Yat-sen University, and children and parents who participated in our study.

Author contributions

LY, QW, BZ, SL, and FF conceived the study and created stimuli. YH and YZ carried out the testing. DS and QW formally analyzed the data and created the visualization of the data. QW, DS, YH, and LY drafted the manuscript. All authors reviewed the manuscript and gave final approval for publication.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10803_2018_3546_MOESM1_ESM.docx (236 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 235 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qiandong Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yixiao Hu
    • 3
    • 4
  • Dejun Shi
    • 3
    • 4
  • Yaoxin Zhang
    • 3
    • 4
  • Xiaobing Zou
    • 5
  • Sheng Li
    • 3
    • 4
    • 6
  • Fang Fang
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    • 6
    • 7
  • Li Yi
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Peking-Tsinghua Center for Life SciencesPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Academy for Advanced Interdisciplinary StudiesPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.School of Psychological and Cognitive SciencesPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  4. 4.Beijing Key Laboratory of Behavior and Mental HealthPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  5. 5.The Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  6. 6.PKU-IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain ResearchPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  7. 7.Key Laboratory of Machine Perception (Ministry of Education)Peking UniversityBeijingChina

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