Social objects with attention to others. Therefore, suggesting

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Last updated: July 12, 2019

Social attention, which has appeared with increasing traction due toheighted interest in several different perspectives. Social attention is definedas the process by which observers select and encode aspects of other people (Franket al.

, 2011). It is often used in detecting autism during the early stage,being among the core deficiencies of autism (Charman, 2003; Sigman et al.,2004). The term “social attention”can be a perplex construct, as often, it can refer to a cluster of behavioursthat share the common goal of communicating with another person. Other times,it can refer itself to Smith and Ulvund (2003) describe socialattention as the “hallmark of the human condition”, and the ability to coordinate attentionto events and objects with attention to others. Therefore, suggesting thatsocial attention in terms of social behaviour is the capability to attendsimultaneously to a shared object and a person, for example, in its most simplelevel, eye gaze alternation and gesturing (Meindl and Cannella-Malone, 2011). Autism on the other hand, isthe other area of focus alongside with social attention.

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Autism spectrumdisorders (ASD) are prevalent developmental disorders which affectsapproximately one in every 150 children (CDC, 2007). Children of 36 months oldand younger showing pronounced deficits in communication, social interaction andbehavioural domains (American PsychiatricAssociation, 2013) are more often than usual signs of autism. Thiscomplex disorder is known to share similarities with Pervasive DevelopmentalDisorder, Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), Asperger’ssyndrome, and others. Although the aetiology of this disorder is unknown,autism involves basic deficiencies such as in the areas of central logicality;ability to procure what another person might be thinking just by observingtheir behaviour, termed “theory of mind”. The lack of theory of mindwas proposed as a core of autism by Baron-Cohen et al (1985) while Frith(1989), came up with the idea that weak central coherence was thought by someto be the cause of central disturbance in autism.

  Among other symptoms, persons with autismfrequently experience disturbances of different aspects of attention.Attentional difference in the autistics as compared to normal controls are notthat simple. This paper will review the literature on the differences in socialattention between people with autism and those without while citing somerelevant empirical evidences.             In relationto social attention, people with ASD seem to have their aberrant eye gazemechanisms implicated. Past studies focused on the eye movements in childrenwith ASD revealed that there is a significant decrease in eye gaze duration andabsence of specific eye gaze fixation to the eyes and/or mouth when comparingto the controls (Papagiannopoulouet al., 2014). There were many studies that employed a range ofexperimental designs. To name a few, static photographs and pictures, dynamicaudio-visual stimuli and free-viewing tasks were among the experimental designsused.

The many studies that will be being brought up will be focusing onstudies using controls on eye-tracking. NO SIGNIFICANTDIFFERENCE            Klin et al. (2002) did an eye-tracking study which was oneof the first studies to show deficiencies in social attention in individualswith ASD. The study exhibited the significant time spent on attending to peopleand to the background and irrelevant objects in the movie scene where they wereasked to watch. ASD individuals did spend lesser time on attending to peoplethan the other distractors in the scene. Results were replicated in other similarstudies.

Riby and Hancock (2009b), Wilson, Brock, and Palermo (2010) and Shicet al. (2011) all showed indistinguishable results where ASD individuals spendproportionally more time looking at background objects than on attending topeople. SIGNIFICANTDIFFERENCEAfter having reviewed a fewstudies, it was observed that both groups, with and without autism exhibit samefixation durations. van der Geest, Kumner, Verbaten et al. (2002), carried outtwo studies involving human faces to observe gaze behaviour and gaze fixationtimes. The first study comprised faces with emotional expressions while theother study comprised faces with neutral expressions in different orientations.Both studies showed same fixation duration.

Also, similar to Anderson et al.(2006), Key and Stone (2012) presented three different colours of human faces.Similar to previous studies by geest et al., 

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