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Gaze Following in Children with Autism: Do High Interest Objects Boost Performance?
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology. Karolinska Inst, Pediat Neuropsychiat Unit, Karolinska Inst Ctr Neurodev Disorders KIND, Dept Womens & Childrens Hlth, Gavlegatan 22, S-11330 Stockholm, Sweden.; Stockholm Cty Council, Ctr Psychiat Res, Child & Adolescent Psychiat, Stockholm, Sweden..
2017 (English)In: Journal of autism and developmental disorders, ISSN 0162-3257, E-ISSN 1573-3432, Vol. 47, no 3, p. 626-635Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study tested whether including objects perceived as highly interesting by children with autism during a gaze following task would result in increased first fixation durations on the target objects. It has previously been found that autistic children differentiate less between an object another person attends to and unattended objects in terms of this measure.  Less differentiation between attended and unattended objects in ASD as compared to control children was found in a baseline condition, but not in the high interest condition. However, typically developing children differentiated less between attended and unattended objects in the high interest condition than in the baseline condition, possibly reflecting reduced influence of gaze cues on object processing when objects themselves are highly interesting.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 47, no 3, p. 626-635
Keywords [en]
Gaze following, Joint attention, Circumscribed interests, Communication, Social cognition
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-313736DOI: 10.1007/s10803-016-2955-6ISI: 000396815400011PubMedID: 27987062OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-313736DiVA, id: diva2:1067888
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2015-03670Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, NHS14-1802:1The Karolinska Institutet's Research FoundationAvailable from: 2017-01-23 Created: 2017-01-23 Last updated: 2017-08-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Joint Attention in Development: Insights from Children with Autism and Infant Siblings
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Joint Attention in Development: Insights from Children with Autism and Infant Siblings
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Compared to other children, children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are known to engage less in joint attention - the sharing of attention between two individuals toward a common object or event. Joint attention behaviors - for example gaze following, alternating gaze, and pointing - play an important role in early development, as they provide a foundation for learning and social interaction. Study I and Study II focused on infant siblings of children with ASD. These infants, often termed high risk (HR) infants, have an increased probability of receiving a later ASD diagnosis. Studying them therefore allows for the detection of early signs of ASD. Live eye tracking was used to investigate different joint attention behaviors at 10 months of age. Study I showed that omitting the head movement that usually accompany experimenters’ eye gaze shifts in similar designs reduced gaze following performance in the HR group, but not in a group of infants at low risk (LR) for ASD. HR infants may thus be less sensitive to eye information, or may need more salient cues in order to follow gaze optimally. Study II focused on the infants’ tendency to initiate joint attention by alternating their gaze between a person and an event. LR infants engaged more in alternating gaze than HR infants, and less alternating gaze in infancy was associated with more ASD symptoms at 18 months. This relation remained when controlling for visual disengagement and general social interest in infancy. Study III explored the role of joint attention later in development, by investigating the microstructure of the looking behaviors of autistic and typically developing children (~6 years old). The results indicated that seeing somebody look at an object influenced the processing of that object less in autistic children than in the typically developing controls. Both groups followed gaze effectively, suggesting that differences in joint attention at this age may be subtle, but detectable with eye tracking technology. Together, the studies contribute to our understanding of the role that joint attention atypicalities play both in the early development of infants at risk for ASD, and later in the development of children with a confirmed diagnosis.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2017. p. 91
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 145
Keywords
Autism Spectrum Disorder, Joint Attention, Gaze following, Alternating gaze, Social cognition, Eye tracking, Infant siblings
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-327117 (URN)978-91-513-0020-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-09-22, Sal IV, Universitetshuset, Biskopsgatan 3, Uppsala, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-08-31 Created: 2017-08-05 Last updated: 2017-09-08

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