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Using Eye Movements as an Index of Implicit Face Recognition in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Authors


Address for correspondence and reprints: Robyn Young, School of Psychology, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, South Australia 5001, Australia. E-mail: robyn.young@flinders.edu.au

Abstract

Individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) typically show impairment on face recognition tasks. Performance has usually been assessed using overt, explicit recognition tasks. Here, a complementary method involving eye tracking was used to examine implicit face recognition in participants with ASD and in an intelligence quotient-matched non-ASD control group. Differences in eye movement indices between target and foil faces were used as an indicator of implicit face recognition. Explicit face recognition was assessed using old–new discrimination and reaction time measures. Stimuli were faces of studied (target) or unfamiliar (foil) persons. Target images at test were either identical to the images presented at study or altered by changing the lighting, pose, or by masking with visual noise. Participants with ASD performed worse than controls on the explicit recognition task. Eye movement-based measures, however, indicated that implicit recognition may not be affected to the same degree as explicit recognition. Autism Res 2012, 5: 363–379. © 2012 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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