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Sci Rep. 2016 Jan 13;6:19381. doi: 10.1038/srep19381.

Attentional biases to faces expressing disgust in children with autism spectrum disorders: an exploratory study.

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Behavior Rehabilitation Training Research Institution, School of Psychology, Northwest Normal University, 967 East Anning Road, Lanzhou, 730070, China.
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Centre for Cognition, Radboud University, PO. Box 9104, Nijmegen, 6500 HE, The Netherlands.


Previous studies on attentional bias towards emotional faces in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) provided mixed results. This might be due to differences in the examined attentional bias components and emotional expressions. This study assessed three bias components, hypervigilance, disengagement, and avoidance, using faces with a disgust, happy, or neutral expression in a dot-probe and external cuing task in 18 children with ASD and 21 typically developing (TD) children. The children with ASD initially displayed hypervigilance towards the disgust faces, followed by a general tendency to avoid looking back at the spatial location at which any face, irrespective of its emotional expression, had been presented. These results highlight the importance of differentiating between attentional bias components in research on ASD.

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