Autistic traits and eye-movements during reading

Nathan Caruana, Jon Brock

    Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstract


    According to the Weak Central Coherence (WCC) theory of autism, autistic individuals maintain a reduced ability to process contextual information. This theory has been proposed to explain the widely proposed reading comprehension difficulties of autistic individuals, and in particular, their problems in resolving lexically ambiguous words (homographs). The main aim of the current study was to develop eye-tracking measures that could be applied to future studies of reading skill in autism, as a test of the WCC account. Seventy-one undergraduates were assessed using two eye-tracking paradigms. Participants also completed measures of reading fluency and vocabulary knowledge, as well as the Autism Quotient (AQ), which captures individual variations in subclinical autistic traits. Significant effects of contextual facilitation on fixation times were observed as predicted, but did not interact with scores on the AQ. We also found a significant increase in fixation time for words that disambiguated homographs earlier in the sentence. This effect interacted with AQ scores, indicating that individuals with more autistic traits had greater difficulty in integrating contextual information to resolve lexical ambiguity. These findings are encouraging for future research aims to assess WCC in autistic populations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)225
    Number of pages1
    JournalClinical EEG and neuroscience
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    EventAustralasian Cognitive Neurosciences Conference (21st : 2011) - Sydney
    Duration: 9 Dec 201112 Dec 2011


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