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Autism Research and Treatment
Volume 2011, Article ID 657383, 7 pages
Research Article

Eye Movement Sequences during Simple versus Complex Information Processing of Scenes in Autism Spectrum Disorder

1School of Psychology Shackleton Building, University of Southampton, Highfield SO17 1BJ, UK
2Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 3N6
3Psychology Department, University of California, San Diego, Mandler Hall, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA

Received 31 October 2010; Revised 20 May 2011; Accepted 20 June 2011

Academic Editor: Elizabeth Aylward

Copyright © 2011 Sheena K. Au-Yeung et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Minshew and Goldstein (1998) postulated that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a disorder of complex information processing. The current study was designed to investigate this hypothesis. Participants with and without ASD completed two scene perception tasks: a simple “spot the difference” task, where they had to say which one of a pair of pictures had a detail missing, and a complex “which one's weird” task, where they had to decide which one of a pair of pictures looks “weird”. Participants with ASD did not differ from TD participants in their ability to accurately identify the target picture in both tasks. However, analysis of the eye movement sequences showed that participants with ASD viewed scenes differently from normal controls exclusively for the complex task. This difference in eye movement patterns, and the method used to examine different patterns, adds to the knowledge base regarding eye movements and ASD. Our results are in accordance with Minshew and Goldstein's theory that complex, but not simple, information processing is impaired in ASD.