Salient Social Cues are Prioritized in Autism Spectrum Disorders Despite Overall Decrease in Social Attention


  • Chevallier Coralie
  • Huguet Pascal
  • Happe Francesca
  • George Nathalie
  • Conty Laurence

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Diminished social attention is often considered to be a central deficit in autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). We further investigate this hypothesis by measuring the distracting power of social and non-social stimuli in the context of a Stroop task among children with ASD and typically developing controls (TDCs). Our results show that Stroop interference increases with social versus non-social distracters in TDCs, whereas the opposite pattern occurs in ASD. Within social stimuli, however, the superiority of direct gaze previously reported in the literature did not differ between the groups. Our data thus suggest that ASD children assign less weight to social than non-social stimuli, but that within social signals, salient stimuli remain prioritized.

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