Using Eye Tracking Data To Study Autism

One of the characteristics of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is that they focus on social images (faces, for instance) to a lesser degree than typically developing (TD) children. This tendency is exacerbated by the presence of images of particular interest to the ASD child. This characteristic of ASD children can be used both to diagnose and to study ASD. However, because autistic children may have difficulty following directions or focusing on an assigned task — and because researchers are interested in techniques that will allow early ASD diagnosis — there are challenges associated with studying eye tracking in this population. A new study published in JoVE, the Journal of Visualized Experiments*, describes ways to overcome these challenges. This work should help researchers learn more about ASD, and diagnose ASD at younger ages. You can check out the press release from JoVE, read the paper, or just watch the video below:

{If you don’t want to listen to all the technical “how we designed our experiment” stuff, skip to 7:27 for the results}

*I just love JoVE. Some of their science offerings are open-access, meaning you don’t have have a subscription to the journal to read certain articles. Also, instead of having to read a scientific paper (which can be tedious and boring), you can kick back with a cup of coffee and watch a video! While the videos are a little technical (because the goal is to report the experiment in its entirety), they’re not as technical as published papers.

 

Do you think video science is easier to stomach than reading an article?

 

Reference:

Sasson et al. Eye tracking young children with autism. J Vis Exp. 2012 Mar 27;(61).

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