Brief Report: Attentional Cueing to Images of Social Interactions is Automatic for Neurotypical Individuals But Not Those with ASC

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College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology


Autism spectrum condition (ASC), Attentional cueing, Social orienting


Human actions induce attentional orienting toward the target of the action. We examined the influence of action cueing in social (man throwing toward a human) and non-social (man throwing toward a tree) contexts in observers with and without autism spectrum condition (ASC). Results suggested that a social interaction enhanced the cueing effect for neurotypical participants. Participants with ASC did not benefit from non-predictive cues and were slower in social contexts, although they benefitted from reliably predictive cues. Social orienting appears to be automatic in the context of an implied social interaction for neurotypical observers, but not those with ASC. Neurotypical participants’ behavior may be driven by automatic processing, while participants with ASC use an alternative, effortful strategy.

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