Research: Diminished Attention to Eyes and Autism

January 20, 2017

“Mechanisms of Diminished Attention to Eyes in Autism” 

Am J Psychiatry. 2017;174:26-35, 1-2.

J.M. Moriuchi, A. Klin, W. Jones

The reduced attention to other people’s eyes in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is due to passive insensitivity to social signals in others’ eyes, rather than gaze aversion, conclude US investigators in findings that could ultimately point to novel therapies for the condition.

In two experiments, researchers showed that children with ASD did not look away faster than typically developing children from direct gaze but reacted less to implicit social cues for eye-looking.

“These results contradict the hypothesis that children with ASD actively avoid looking at the eyes in early life. Instead, the results are consistent with gaze indifference and indicate passive insensitivity to social signals in others’ eyes coupled with intact sensitivity to nonsocial, physical cues,” the investigators, led by Warren Jones, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, write.

 –excerpted from Medscape Medical News

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