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Neuropsychologia. 2008 Sep;46(11):2855-60. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2008.05.003. Epub 2008 May 14.

Viewing it differently: social scene perception in Williams syndrome and autism.

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1
School of Psychology, Newcastle University, United Kingdom. D.M.Riby@newcastle.ac.uk

Abstract

The genetic disorder Williams syndrome (WS) is associated with a propulsion towards social stimuli and interactions with people. In contrast, the neuro-developmental disorder autism is characterised by social withdrawal and lack of interest in socially relevant information. Using eye-tracking techniques we investigate how individuals with these two neuro-developmental disorders associated with distinct social characteristics view scenes containing people. The way individuals with these disorders view social stimuli may impact upon successful social interactions and communication. Whilst individuals with autism spend less time than is typical viewing people and faces in static pictures of social interactions, the opposite is apparent for those with WS whereby exaggerated fixations are prevalent towards the eyes. The results suggest more attention should be drawn towards understanding the implications of atypical social preferences in WS, in the same way that attention has been drawn to the social deficits associated with autism.

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