Attention to Eyes and Mouth in High-Functioning Children with Autism

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Abstract

In the present study, we used a probe-detection task to compare attentional allocation to the eyes versus mouth regions of the face in high-functioning boys with autism relative to normal control boys matched for chronological age and IQs. We found that with upright faces, children from both groups attended more to the eyes region than to the mouth region, and to the same extent. This pattern of behavior was observed for not only initial orientation of attention, but also when enough time was provided for attention to be disengaged from its initial locus. The present findings suggest that atypical face processing in autism does not result from abnormal attentional allocation to the different face parts.

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