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Autism Res Treat. 2013;2013:971686. doi: 10.1155/2013/971686. Epub 2013 Jul 22.

Presence of contagious yawning in children with autism spectrum disorder.

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Department of Cognitive and Behavioral Science, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.


Most previous studies suggest diminished susceptibility to contagious yawning in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, it could be driven by their atypical attention to the face. To test this hypothesis, children with ASD and typically developing (TD) children were shown yawning and control movies. To ensure participants' attention to the face, an eye tracker controlled the onset of the yawning and control stimuli. Results demonstrated that both TD children and children with ASD yawned more frequently when they watched the yawning stimuli than the control stimuli. It is suggested therefore that the absence of contagious yawning in children with ASD, as reported in previous studies, might relate to their weaker tendency to spontaneously attend to others' faces.

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