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Unimpaired Attentional Disengagement and Social Orienting in Children With Autism

Fischer, J. and Koldewyn, K. and Jiang, Y.V. and Kanwisher, N. (2013) Unimpaired Attentional Disengagement and Social Orienting in Children With Autism. Clinical Psychological Science, 2 (2). pp. 214-223. DOI: 10.1177/2167702613496242

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Abstract

Visual attention is often hypothesized to play a causal role in the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Because attention shapes perception, learning, and social interaction, early deficits in attention could substantially affect the development of other perceptual and cognitive abilities. Here we test two key attentional phenomena thought to be disrupted in autism: attentional disengagement and social orienting. We find in a free-viewing paradigm that both phenomena are present in high-functioning children with ASD (n = 44, ages 5�12 years) and are identical in magnitude to those in age- and IQ-matched typical children (n = 40). Although these attentional processes may malfunction in other circumstances, our data indicate that high-functioning children with ASD do not suffer from across-the-board disruptions of either attentional disengagement or social orienting. Combined with mounting evidence that other attentional abilities are largely intact, it seems increasingly unlikely that disruptions of core attentional abilities lie at the root of ASD.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Research Publications
Departments: College of Health and Behavioural Sciences > School of Psychology
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2015 02:26
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2015 03:04
ISSN: 2167-7026
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/4658
Identification Number: DOI: 10.1177/2167702613496242
Publisher: Sage Publications
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