Faces Do Not Capture Special Attention in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Change Blindness Study


  • We would like to acknowledge the children, their parents, and the teachers of Musashino Higashi Gakuen. We thank Yura Kunihira and Hironori Akechi and the other staff for their assistance in data collection and the members of Hasegawa Lab for their support and the helpful discussions. We also thank the models of the photographs in Experiment 1. This study was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), 21st Century COE Program J05, “Center for Evolutionary Cognitive Sciences at the University of Tokyo,” and JSPS KAKENHI (16330192). A.S. was also supported by the ESRC Research Fellowship (RES-063-27-0207).

concerning this article should be addressed to Atsushi Senju, Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, School of Psychology, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX, UK. Electronic mail may be sent to a.senju@bbk.ac.uk.


Two experiments investigated attention of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to faces and objects. In both experiments, children (7- to 15-year-olds) detected the difference between 2 visual scenes. Results in Experiment 1 revealed that typically developing children (n = 16) detected the change in faces faster than in objects, whereas children with ASD (n = 16) were equally fast in detecting changes in faces and objects. These results were replicated in Experiment 2 (n = 16 in children with ASD and 22 in typically developing children), which does not require face recognition skill. Results suggest that children with ASD lack an attentional bias toward others’ faces, which could contribute to their atypical social orienting.