Participants with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (n = 121, mean [SD] age: 14.6 [8.0] years) and typically developing (TD) controls (n = 40, 16.4 [13.3] years) were presented with a series of videos representing biological motion on one side of a computer monitor screen and non-biological motion on the other, while their eye movements were recorded. As predicted, participants with ASD spent less overall time looking at presented stimuli than TD participants (P < 10–3) and showed less preference for biological motion (P < 10–5). Participants with ASD also had greater average latencies than TD participants of the first fixation on both biological (P < 0.01) and non-biological motion (P < 0.02). Findings suggest that individuals with ASD differ from TD individuals on multiple properties of eye movements and biological motion preference.
Participants sat in a comfortable chair approximately 60 cm from a 23-inch computer screen (1920 × 1080 pixels). The height of the chair and screen were adjusted to ensure that participants’ eyes were level with the center of the screen. ET data were collected using the Tobii X2 eye tracker, with a sampling rate of 30 Hz, mounted below the screen. iMotions Biometric Research Platform was used for stimuli presentation, data synchronization, and automatic calibration. Participants were allowed to freely observe presented stimuli. To ensure a high accuracy of the eye movement recordings (e.g., Blignaut and Wium 2014), before each experimental set a five-point calibration procedure consisting of animated cartoon characters paired with an auditory cue was performed. The calibration procedure was aimed to reach the mean distance between the participant’s gaze direction and the target points of less than 0.5° of visual angle.
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