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Autism Research and Treatment
Volume 2013, Article ID 835247, 7 pages
Research Article

Back to Basic: Do Children with Autism Spontaneously Look at Screen Displaying a Face or an Object?

1CHRU de Tours, Centre Universitaire de Pédopsychiatrie, 2 Boulevard Tonnellé, 37044 Tours Cedex 9, France
2Université François Rabelais de Tours, 60 rue du Plat D'Etain, 37020 Tours Cedex 1, France
3UMR Inserm U 930, Équipe 1: Imagerie et Cerveau, Université François Rabelais de Tours, Tours, France
4UMR Inserm U 930, Équipe 1: Imagerie et Cerveau, CHRU de Tours-Hôpital Bretonneau, 2 boulevard Tonnellé, Bât B1A, 1er Etage, 37044 Tours Cedex 9, France

Received 29 June 2013; Revised 29 September 2013; Accepted 21 October 2013

Academic Editor: Elizabeth Aylward

Copyright © 2013 Marie Guimard-Brunault 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.


Eye-tracking studies on exploration of faces and objects in autism provided important knowledge but only in a constraint condition (chin rest, total time looking at screen not reported), without studying potential differences between subjects with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and controls in spontaneous visual attention toward a screen presenting these stimuli. This study used eye tracking to compare spontaneous visual attention to a screen displaying a face or an object between children with autism and controls in a nonconstraint condition and to investigate the relationship with clinical characteristics in autism group. Time exploring screen was measured during passive viewing of static images of faces or objects. Autistic behaviors were assessed by the CARS and the BSE-R in autism group. In autism group, time exploring face screen and time exploring object screen were lower than in controls and were not correlated with degree of distractibility. There was no interaction between group and type of image on time spent exploring screen. Only time exploring face screen was correlated with autism severity and gaze impairment. Results highlight particularities of spontaneous visual attention toward a screen displaying faces or objects in autism, which should be taken into account in future eye-tracking studies on face exploration.