Neural Basis of Visual Attentional Orienting in Childhood Autism Spectrum Disordersedit
We examined spontaneous attention orienting to visual salience in stimuli without social significance using a modified Dot-Probe task during functional magnetic resonance imaging in high-functioning preadolescent children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and age- and IQ-matched control children. While the magnitude of attentional bias (faster response to probes in the location of solid color patch) to visually salient stimuli was similar in the groups, activation differences in frontal and temporoparietal regions suggested hyper-sensitivity to visual salience or to sameness in ASD children. Further, activation in a subset of those regions was associated with symptoms of restricted and repetitive behavior. Thus, atypicalities in response to visual properties of stimuli may drive attentional orienting problems associated with ASD.