What is the effect of stimulus complexity on attention to repeating and changing information in Autism

Iti Arora, Alessio Bellato, Teodora Gliga, Danielle Ropar, Puja Kochhar, Chris Hollis, Madeleine Groom

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Abstract

Slower habituation to repeating stimuli characterises Autism, but it is not known whether this is driven by difficulties with information processing or an attentional bias towards sameness. We conducted eye-tracking and presented looming geometrical shapes, clocks with moving arms and smiling faces, as two separate streams of stimuli (one repeating and one changing), to 7–15 years old children and adolescents (n = 103) with Autism, ADHD or co-occurring Autism+ADHD, and neurotypical children (Study-1); and to neurotypical children (n = 64) with varying levels of autistic traits (Study-2). Across both studies, autistic features were associated with longer looks to the repeating stimulus, and shorter looks to the changing stimulus, but only for more complex stimuli, indicating greater difficulty in processing complex or unpredictable information.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Early online date19 Mar 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Autism
  • Autistic traits
  • Eye-tracking
  • Habituation
  • Information foraging

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