Developmental changes in face visual scanning in autism spectrum disorder as assessed by data-based analysis.
Front. Psychol.. 2015-07-16; 6:
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1. Front Psychol. 2015 Jul 16;6:989. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00989. eCollection
Developmental changes in face visual scanning in autism spectrum disorder as
assessed by data-based analysis.
Amestoy A(1), Guillaud E(2), Bouvard MP(1), Cazalets JR(2).
(1)Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Charles Perrens Hospital,
Université de Bordeaux, Bordeaux France ; CNRS UMR 5287, Institut de
Neurosciences Cognitives et Intégratives d’Aquitaine, Université de Bordeaux,
(2)CNRS UMR 5287, Institut de Neurosciences Cognitives et Intégratives
d’Aquitaine, Université de Bordeaux, Bordeaux France.
Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) present reduced visual attention
to faces. However, contradictory conclusions have been drawn about the strategies
involved in visual face scanning due to the various methodologies implemented in
the study of facial screening. Here, we used a data-driven approach to compare
children and adults with ASD subjected to the same free viewing task and to
address developmental aspects of face scanning, including its temporal
patterning, in healthy children, and adults. Four groups (54 subjects) were
included in the study: typical adults, typically developing children, and adults
and children with ASD. Eye tracking was performed on subjects viewing unfamiliar
faces. Fixations were analyzed using a data-driven approach that employed spatial
statistics to provide an objective, unbiased definition of the areas of interest.
Typical adults expressed a spatial and temporal strategy for visual scanning that
differed from the three other groups, involving a sequential fixation of the
right eye (RE), left eye (LE), and mouth. Typically developing children, adults
and children with autism exhibited similar fixation patterns and they always
started by looking at the RE. Children (typical or with ASD) subsequently looked
at the LE or the mouth. Based on the present results, the patterns of fixation
for static faces that mature from childhood to adulthood in typical subjects are
not found in adults with ASD. The atypical patterns found after developmental
progression and experience in ASD groups appear to remain blocked in an immature
state that cannot be differentiated from typical developmental child patterns of