AbstractFalck-Ytter, T, Bölte, S, Gredebäck, G. (2013) Eye tracking in early autism research Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 5:28
Eye tracking has the potential to characterize autism at a unique intermediate level, with links ‘down’ to underlying neurocognitive networks, as well as ‘up’ to everyday function and dysfunction. Because it is non-invasive and does not require advanced motor responses or language, eye tracking is particularly important for the study of young children and infants. In this article, we review eye tracking studies of young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and children at risk for ASD. Reduced looking time at people and faces, as well as problems with disengagement of attention, appear to be among the earliest signs of ASD, emerging during the first year of life. In toddlers with ASD, altered looking patterns across facial parts such as the eyes and mouth have been found, together with limited orienting to biological motion. We provide a detailed discussion of these and other key findings and highlight methodological opportunities and challenges for eye tracking research of young children with ASD. We conclude that eye tracking can reveal important features of the complex picture of autism.