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Modulation of attentional blink with emotional faces in typical development and in autism spectrum disorders

Authors

  • Benjamin E. Yerys,

    1. Center for Autism Research, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
    2. Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC
    3. Children’s Research Institute, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC
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  • Ericka Ruiz,

    1. Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience, Georgetown University, Washington, DC
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  • John Strang,

    1. Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC
    2. Children’s Research Institute, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC
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  • Jennifer Sokoloff,

    1. Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC
    2. Children’s Research Institute, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC
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  • Lauren Kenworthy,

    1. Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC
    2. Children’s Research Institute, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC
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  • Chandan J. Vaidya

    1. Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC
    2. Children’s Research Institute, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC
    3. Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience, Georgetown University, Washington, DC
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  • Conflicts of interest statement: No conflicts declared.

Abstract

Background:  The attentional blink (AB) phenomenon was used to assess the effect of emotional information on early visual attention in typically developing (TD) children and children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The AB effect is the momentary perceptual unawareness that follows target identification in a rapid serial visual processing stream. It is abolished or reduced for emotional stimuli, indicating that emotional information has privileged access to early visual attention processes.

Methods:  We examined the AB effect for faces with neutral and angry facial expressions in 8- to 14-year-old children with and without an ASD diagnosis.

Results:  Children with ASD exhibited the same magnitude AB effect as TD children for both neutral and angry faces.

Conclusions:  Early visual attention to emotional facial expressions was preserved in children with ASD.

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