Ocular motor disturbances in autism spectrum disorders: Systematic review and comprehensive meta-analysis

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Abstract

There has been considerable focus placed on how individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) visually perceive and attend to social information, such as facial expressions or social gaze. The role of eye movements is inextricable from visual perception, however this aspect is often overlooked. We performed a series of meta-analyses based on data from 28 studies of eye movements in ASD to determine whether there is evidence for ocular motor dysfunction in ASD. Tasks assessed included visually-guided saccade tasks, gap/overlap, anti-saccade, pursuit tasks and ocular fixation. These analyses revealed evidence for ocular motor dysfunction in ASD, specifically relating to saccade dysmetria, difficulty inhibiting saccades and impaired tracking of moving targets. However there was no evidence for deficits relating to initiating eye movements, or engaging and disengaging from simple visual targets. Characterizing ocular motor abnormalities in ASD may provide insight into the functional integrity of brain networks in ASD across development, and assist our understanding of visual and social attention in ASD.

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