Navigation Links
Autism symptoms not explained by impaired attention
Date:7/30/2013

Autism is marked by several core features impairments in social functioning, difficulty communicating, and a restriction of interests. Though researchers have attempted to pinpoint factors that might account for all three of these characteristics, the underlying causes are still unclear.

Now, a new study suggests that two key attentional abilities moving attention fluidly and orienting to social information can be checked off the list, as neither seems to account for the diversity of symptoms we find in people with autism.

"This is not to say that every aspect of attention is fine in all children with autism children with autism very often have attentional disorders as well," explain psychological scientists and lead researchers Jason Fischer and Kami Koldewyn of MIT. "However, our study suggests that attention impairments are not a key component of autism itself."

The study is published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Attention has long been targeted as a possible causal mechanism in autism research:

"Problems with attention early in life could have far-reaching consequences," say Fischer and Koldewyn. "For example, if young children with autism don't pay close attention to the behaviors of the people around them, they might never learn to read body language and other social cues."

But much of the previous research on attention, social learning, and autism had been mixed.

"Some of the most fundamental questions remain debated," Fischer and Koldewyn explain. "Our goal was to conduct careful, systematic, relatively large-scale studies of some of the mental processes most often implicated in autism to discover which of them are actually disrupted in autism and which are not."

To investigate this, Fischer, Koldewyn, and their team had children with high-functioning autism and children without autism complete an attention task while tracking their eye movements. Critically, the participants were matched on age and IQ before participating in the study to rule out the possible influence of global developmental delays that aren't specific to autism.

The task was intended to answer two questions: Are children with autism less able to reorient to a new stimulus (a plausible precursor of restricted interests)? And are children with autism slower to respond to social stimuli, such as faces?

Overall, children with and without autism showed clear signatures of shifting attention and orienting to social stimuli, but there was no difference in either ability between the two groups, challenging the hypothesis that impaired attention might be at the root of autism symptoms.

Fischer and Koldewyn underscore that these aren't simply null results they do contribute in a meaningful way to our understanding of autism.

"Understanding which mental capacities are intact in autism is not only encouraging, but also helps families and educators design effective interventions to work on those cognitive skills that are true areas of weakness in autism."

While finding those true cognitive impairments, and their antecedents, has proved difficult, it's not for lack of effort.

"We believe that the crux of autism lies in a difficulty interpreting the nuanced and complex information present in real life social situations," Fischer and Koldewyn conclude. "We plan to test children with autism in more natural scenarios than the typical laboratory environment in order to understand how social context interacts with attentional abilities in autism."


'/>"/>

Contact: Lucy Hyde
lhyde@psychologicalscience.org
202-293-9300
Association for Psychological Science
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. An Early Start for Your Child with Autism
2. IntegraGen launches ARISk test, a genetic screening tool for autism in high-risk children
3. Researchers Find Gene Mutations That May Be a Key to Autism
4. Pregnancy Length May Influence Severity of Autism
5. Children Born to Obese Moms May Face Higher Autism Risk: Study
6. Online Tool Could Diagnose Autism Quickly, Developers Say
7. Autism by the numbers: Yale researchers examine impact of new diagnostic criteria
8. In Mice, Drug Reverses Symptoms of Condition Linked to Autism
9. Study of half siblings provides genetic clues to autism
10. Genes Associated With Autism Also Related to Schizophrenia
11. Publication Bias Casts Doubt on Value of Antidepressants for Autism
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:7/24/2017)... Kansas City, MO (PRWEB) , ... July 24, 2017 , ... ... for the acclaimed Saint Luke’s Marion Bloch Neuroscience Institute (SLMBNI), part of ... an interim basis since 2016. , Cheerag D. Upadhyaya, MD. M.Sc., FAANS joins ...
(Date:7/24/2017)... ... July 24, 2017 , ... ... partnered together for a unique opportunity that helps high school girls succeed in ... Barriers, Creating Opportunities.” Horizon Goodwill will host over 20 high school girls ...
(Date:7/24/2017)... ... , ... Every year, thousands of dedicated Higher Education and K12 professionals flock ... coupled with a dynamic theme like Camp Canvas; this year, they’ve managed to take ... , To extend their partnership with Canvas beyond the LMS integration, Modo Labs secured ...
(Date:7/24/2017)... ... ... people are taking more steps to protect themselves from sunburn, half of all adults and ... the past year. It’s common and people have been dealing with them since the dawn ... conscientious of the risks that accompany sunburns. , The team at AloeVera.com , a ...
(Date:7/24/2017)... OR (PRWEB) , ... July 24, 2017 , ... Sharon ... Climate Change and Your Health on VoiceAmerica sponsored by Nature’s Tears® EyeMist® recently talked ... the rise of myopia in China. , The article by Zidor Aldama described the ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:7/11/2017)... 2017  The global market for liquid biopsy diagnostic ... million in 2016.  Although in early stages, the global ... particular as a result of the gradual shift towards ... introduction of a significant number of new liquid biopsy ... tumor biomarkers to guide treatment decisions. ...
(Date:7/10/2017)... 2017 The Institute for In Vitro Sciences ... recipient of a VITROCELL® inhalation exposure system thanks to ... The device, which is designed to replace animals in ... cells to airborne test materials in an environment that ... system for testing combustible tobacco products, as well as ...
(Date:7/5/2017)... , July 5, 2017 Wolfmet 3D  printed ... as physics and manufacturing combine to progress molecular radiotherapy imaging. ... SPECT systems are unable to accurately quantify the radiation absorbed ... information regarding the success of this radiotherapy treatment has been ... ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: