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J Autism Dev Disord. 2008 Mar;38(3):553-7. Epub 2007 Jul 3.

Brief report: eye movements during visual search tasks indicate enhanced stimulus discriminability in subjects with PDD.

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Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, University Medical Center Utrecht, Heidelberglaan 100, 3584 CX Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Subjects with PDD excel on certain visuo-spatial tasks, amongst which visual search tasks, and this has been attributed to enhanced perceptual discrimination. However, an alternative explanation is that subjects with PDD show a different, more effective search strategy. The present study aimed to test both hypotheses, by measuring eye movements during visual search tasks in high functioning adult men with PDD and a control group. Subjects with PDD were significantly faster than controls in these tasks, replicating earlier findings in children. Eye movement data showed that subjects with PDD made fewer eye movements than controls. No evidence was found for a different search strategy between the groups. The data indicate an enhanced ability to discriminate between stimulus elements in PDD.

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