SATO Wataru Laboratory

Dynamic fearful gaze does not enhance attention orienting in individuals with Asperger's disorder

(Uono, Sato, & Toichi: Brain Cogn)

Although impaired joint attention is one of the clinical features of pervasive developmental disorders including autistic disorder and Asperger's disorder, experimental studies failed to report its impairment.
The discrepancy might be due to differences between real and experimental situations.

This study examined joint attention in 11 individuals with Asperger's disorder and 11 age-matched controls under naturalistic conditions, using a target detection paradigm with dynamic emotional gaze cues.

Although both groups showed gaze-triggered attention orienting, as assessed by the differences in reaction time for invalid minus valid cues, enhancement of joint attention by fearful (vs neutral) gaze was found in the control group, but not in the Asperger group.

This suggests that individuals with Asperger's disorder have impairment in the integration of emotion and gaze direction that elicit strong joint attention.

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