Age Trends in Visual Exploration of Social and Nonsocial Information in Children with Autism.


Journal Article

Because previous studies of attention in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have been restricted in age range examined, little is known about how these processes develop over the course of childhood. In this study we examined cross-sectional age effects on patterns of visual attention to social and nonsocial information in 43 typically developing children and 51 children with ASD ranging in age from 2 to 18. Results indicated a sharp increase in visual exploration with age and a decrease in perseverative and detail-focused attention for both groups of children. However, increased age was associated with greater increases in visual exploration for typically developing children than for those children with ASD. The developmental differences were most pronounced for attention to certain nonsocial stimuli as children with ASD demonstrated a disproportionate attentional bias for these stimuli from very early in life. Disproportionate visual attention to certain nonsocial objects relative to social stimuli in ASD spanned from early to late childhood, and thus may represent both an early and a persistent characteristic of the disorder.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Elison, JT; Sasson, NJ; Turner-Brown, LM; Dichter, G; Bodfish, JW

Published Date

  • April 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 6 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 842 - 851

PubMed ID

  • 22639682

Pubmed Central ID

  • 22639682

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1750-9467

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.rasd.2011.11.005


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Netherlands