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Seeing the unseen: autism involves reduced susceptibility to inattentional blindness

Swettenham, J; Remington, A; Murphy, P; Feuerstein, M; Grim, K; Lavie, N; (2014) Seeing the unseen: autism involves reduced susceptibility to inattentional blindness. Neuropsychology , 28 (4) pp. 563-570. 10.1037/neu0000042. Green open access

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Attention research in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has produced conflicting results. Some findings demonstrate greater distractibility while others suggest superior focused attention. Applying Lavie's load theory of attention to account for this discrepancy led us to hypothesize increased perceptual capacity in ASD. Preliminary support for our hypothesis has so far been found for adults with ASD with reaction time (RT) and signal detection sensitivity measures. Here we test the novel prediction we derived from this hypothesis that children with ASD should have lower rates of inattentional blindness than controls. METHOD: Twenty-four children with ASD (mean age = 10 years 10 months) and 39 typically developing children (age and IQ matched) took part in the study. We assessed the effects of perceptual load on the rates of inattentional blindness in each group. Participants performing a line discrimination task in either a high load or low load condition were presented with an unexpected extra stimulus on a critical trial. Performance on the line judgment task and rates of detection and stimulus identification were recorded. RESULTS: Overall rates of detection and identification were higher in the ASD group than in the controls. Moreover, whereas both detection and identification rates were significantly lower in the high (compared with low) load conditions for the controls, these were unaffected by load in the ASD group. CONCLUSION: Reduced inattentional blindness rates under load in ASD suggests higher perceptual capacity is a core feature, present from childhood and leading to superior performance in various measures of perception and attention.

Type: Article
Title: Seeing the unseen: autism involves reduced susceptibility to inattentional blindness
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1037/neu0000042
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/neu0000042
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © American Psychological Association 2014. This article may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
Keywords: Age Factors, Analysis of Variance, Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity, Awareness, Blindness, Child, Child Development Disorders, Pervasive, Discrimination (Psychology), Disease Susceptibility, Female, Humans, Male, Neuropsychological Tests, Photic Stimulation, Reaction Time, Signal Detection, Psychological
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Psychology and Human Development
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Language and Cognition
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1425375
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