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Visual orienting in the early broader autism phenotype: disengagement and facilitation

Elsabbagh, Mayada and Volein, Agnes and Holmboe, Karla and Tucker, Leslie A. and Csibra, Gergely and Baron-Cohen, S. and Bolton, P. and Charman, T. and Baird, G. and Johnson, Mark H. (2009) Visual orienting in the early broader autism phenotype: disengagement and facilitation. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines 50 (5), pp. 637-642. ISSN 0021-9630.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2008.02051.x

Abstract

Background: Recent studies of infant siblings of children diagnosed with autism have allowed for a prospective approach to examine the emergence of symptoms and revealed behavioral differences in the broader autism phenotype within the early years. In the current study we focused on a set of functions associated with visual attention, previously reported to be atypical in autism. Method: We compared performance of a group of 9–10-month-old infant siblings of children with autism to a control group with no family history of autism on the 'gap-overlap task', which measures the cost of disengaging from a central stimulus in order to fixate a peripheral one. Two measures were derived on the basis of infants' saccadic reaction times. The first is the Disengagement effect, which measures the efficiency of disengaging from a central stimulus to orient to a peripheral one. The second was a Facilitation effect, which arises when the infant is cued by a temporal gap preceding the onset of the peripheral stimulus, and would orient faster after its onset. Results and conclusion: Infant siblings of children with autism showed longer Disengagement latencies as well as less Facilitation relative to the control group. The findings are discussed in relation to how differences in visual attention may relate to characteristics observed in autism and the broader phenotype

Item Type: Article
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Infancy, autism, visual attention, gap-overlap task, disengagement
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2011 11:28
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:19
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/2451

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