Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders

2013 Edition
| Editors: Fred R. Volkmar

Mutual Gaze

  • Sally J. RogersEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1698-3_628



What Is It?

Mutual gaze occurs when two people make eye contact or look into each other’s eyes. Mutual gaze is an important part of social communication and perception of others’ emotion states and is the one of the foundational skills necessary in the development of joint attention (George & Conty, 2008; Morales, Mundy, Crowson, Neal, & Delgado, 2005; Saito et al., 2010; Senju & Johnson, 2009). Mutual gaze has been described as “the most powerful mode of establishing a communicative link between humans” (Farroni, Csibra, Simion, & Johnson, 2002).

When Does It Occur?

From birth, infants are innately motivated to gaze into their caregivers’ eyes. In fact, the field of vision of newborns is approximately the distance required to make eye contact when held by an adult (Stern, Hofer, Haft, & Dore, 1985). Infants prefer to look at faces over other stimuli, especially faces...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References and Readings

  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, DSM-IV-TR (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author. Text revision.Google Scholar
  2. Chawarska, K., Volkmar, F., & Klin, A. (2010). Limited attentional bias for faces in toddlers with autism. Archives of General Psychiatry, 67, 178–185.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dawson, G., Hill, D., Spencer, A., Galpert, L., & Watson, L. (1990). Affective exchanges between young autistic children and their mothers. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 18, 335–345.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Elsabbagh, M., Volein, A., Csibra, G., Homboe, K., Garwood, H., Tucker, L., et al. (2009). Neural correlates of eye gaze processing in the infant broader autism phenotype. Biological Psychiatry, 65, 31–38.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Farran, D. C., & Kasari, C. (1990). A longitudinal analysis of the development of synchrony in mutual gaze in mother-child dyads. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 11, 419–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Farroni, T., Csibra, G., Simion, F., & Johnson, M. H. (2002). Eye contact detection in humans from birth. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 99, 9602–9605.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. George, N., & Conty, L. (2008). Facing the gaze of others. Clinical Neurophysiology, 38, 197–207.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gibson, J. J., & Pick, A. D. (1963). Perception of another’s looking behavior. The American Journal of Psychology, 76, 386–394.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Johnson, M. H., Bziurawiec, S., Ellis, H., & Morton, J. (1992). The effects of movement of internal features on infants’ preferences for face-like stimuli. Cognition, 40, 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Klienmann, D., Dziobek, I., Hatri, A., Steimke, R., & Heekeren, H. R. (2010). Atypical reflexive gaze patterns on emotional faces in autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Neuroscience, 30, 12281–12287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kylliainen, A., & Hietanen, J. K. (2006). Skin conductance responses to another person’s gaze in children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36, 517–525.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Mauer, D., & Salapatek, P. (1976). Developmental changes in the scanning of faces by young infants. Child Development, 47, 523–527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Morales, M., Mundy, P., Crowson, M. M., Neal, A. R., & Delgado, C. E. F. (2005). Individual differences in infant attention skills, joint attention, and emotion regulation behaviour. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 29, 259–263.Google Scholar
  14. Ozonoff, S., Iosif, A., Baguio, F., Cook, I. C., Hill, M. M., Hutman, T., et al. (2010). A prospective study of the emergence of early behavioral signs of autism. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 49, 256–266.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Saito, D. N., Tanabe, H. C., Izuma, K., Hayashi, M. J., Morito, Y., & Komeda, H. (2010). “Stay tuned”: Inter-individual neural synchronization during mutual gaze and joint attention. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 4, 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Senju, A., & Johnson, M. H. (2009). Atypical eye contact in autism: Models, mechanisms, and development. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 33, 1204–1214.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Senju, A., Yaguchi, K., Tojo, Y., & Hasegawa, T. (2003). Eye contact does not facilitate detection in children with autism. Cognition, 89, B43–B51.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Senju, A., Yaguchi, K., Tojo, Y., & Hasegawa, T. (2005). Deviant gaze processing in children with autism: An ERP study. Neuropsychologia, 43, 1297–1306.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Stern, D. N., Hofer, L., Haft, W., & Dore, J. (1985). Affect attunement: The sharing of feeling states between mother and infant by means of inter-model fluency. In T. M. Field & N. A. Fox (Eds.), Social perception in infants (pp. 323–378). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar
  20. Volkmar, F. R., & Mayes, L. C. (1990). Gaze behavior in autism. Development and Psychopathology, 2, 61–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Young, G. S., Merin, N., Rogers, S. J., & Ozonoff, S. (2009). Gaze behavior and affect at 6 months: Predicting clinical outcomes and language development in typically developing infants and infants at risk for autism. Developmental Science, 12, 798–814.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesUC Davis M.I.N.D. InstituteSacramentoUSA