Scene-based visual search in persons with autism spectrum disorder
LE3 .A278 2020
Bachelor of Science
Attention in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been studied extensively using visual search (VS) tasks. Individuals with ASD have displayed superior VS abilities compared to typically developing (TD) individuals in traditional VS tasks, however mixed results have been gathered from studies that employ more real world-like naturalistic arrays, and to date, few studies have compared social and non-social (i.e., animate and in animate) targets in naturalistic arrays. The current study investigated attention in school-age children with ASD and TD controls, matched for mental age (MA) across groups. Participants ranging in age from 5-12 years completed a scene-based VS task that included an animate (i.e., dog) or inanimate (i.e., skateboard) cartoon target within life-like cartoon backgrounds. Accuracy and reaction time (RT) were recorded. Results showed a main effect of target type for RT and accuracy. Both participants with ASD and TD children performed better when searching for the animate target (i.e., dog) than the inanimate target (i.e., skateboard). The results suggest there is intact VS ability in children with ASD, however it is not enhanced when searching naturalistic arrays. These results also support the idea that individuals with ASD possess a social bias of attention, much like TD individuals. Future studies should examine what aspects of scenes lead to better or worse performance on VS tasks.
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