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    Temporal profiles of social attention are different across development in Autistic and Neurotypical people

    Del Bianco, Teresa and Mason, Luke and Charman, T. and Tillman, J. and Loth, E. and Hayward, H. and Shic, F. and Buitelaar, J. and Johnson, Mark H. and Jones, Emily J.H. and The EU-AIMS, Leap Group (2021) Temporal profiles of social attention are different across development in Autistic and Neurotypical people. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging 6 (8), pp. 813-824. ISSN 2451-9022.

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    Background: Socio-communicative difficulties, including atypicalities in eye contact, are core diagnostic features of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Many studies have used eye-tracking to measure reduced attention to faces in autistic people, however, most of this work has not taken advantage of eye-tracking temporal resolution to examine temporal profiles of attention. Methods: We used Growth Curve Analysis to model attention to static social scenes as a function of time in a large (N=650) sample of participants diagnosed with ASD, and neurotypical (NT) participants across a wide age range (6-30 years). Results: The model yielded distinct temporal profiles of attention to faces in the groups. Initially, both groups showed a relatively high probability of attending to faces, followed by decline after several seconds. The NT group, however, were significantly more likely to return their attention to faces in the latter part of each 20s trial, with increasing probability with age. In contrast, the probability of returning to the face in the autistic (AUT) group remained low across development. In the AUT group, more atypical profiles of attention were associated with lower Vineland Communication scores, and a higher curvature in one data-driven cluster correlated with symptom severity. Conclusions: These findings show that social attention is not only reduced in ASD, but that it differs in its temporal dynamics. The NT group became more sophisticated in how they deployed their social attention across age, a pattern that was significantly reduced in the AUT group, possibly reflecting delayed acquisition of social expertise.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Brain and Cognitive Development, Centre for (CBCD)
    Depositing User: Teresa Del Bianco
    Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2020 10:50
    Last Modified: 12 Oct 2023 18:03


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