McDonnell ASD Project

Evaluation of Face Processing in Children with Autism

Brief description: The goal of this project is to use sophisticated eye tracking equipment that records fixation and eye-gaze data as well as pupil dilation as an autonomic response in combination with scalp EEG and electrophysiologic measures in children with autism when viewing social stimuli.

Eligibility for Study Participation:

  • Children: 6-12 years of age
    • typically developing (for a comparison population)
    • or with an Autism Spectrum Disorder

Participation Details:

If you decide to participate in this study, you will be asked to visit our laboratory for one, 1.5 hour session. Parents will be with their child at all times. The session will be scheduled at a time that is convenient for you and your child.

Research Contact:

Vanessa Vogel-Farley

Full Description:

Avoidance of social interactions is one of the characteristic features of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). The goal of this research study is to see if children with autism find social stimuli (for example, faces showing different emotions) as aversive. This study is going to look at the possibility that people with autism may view these types of pictures/interactions as aversive, rather than finding them unimportant or uninteresting. This may mean that people with autism avoid social interactions as a means of reducing anxiety. The nature of social avoidance is thought to be the result of finding social interactions aversive, particularly with unfamiliar individuals. In this protocol, we will use eye tracking equipment that records looking time data and eye-gaze data as well as pupil size as a response to seeing pictures. We will use this data together with scalp EEG and electrophysiologic measures to look at the response to seeing pictures of different faces/emotions in children with and without autism.