The influence of static versus naturalistic stimuli on face processing in children with and without Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism
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Questions regarding the use of static or dynamic facial stimuli in experimental studies investigating facial processing of individuals with AS/HFA raises issues of both ecological validity and the applicability of experimental findings to clinical or everyday practice. Children with and without AS/HFA (n = 38) were fitted with a head-mounted eye-tracker and exposed to either static or interactive dynamic facial stimuli. Average fixation duration, the proportion of fixations in areas of interest and a comparative index that was independent of differences in presentation length between stimuli types were calculated. Visual scanning patterns of individuals with AS/HFA were not affected by stimuli type. However, control participants exhibited different scanning patterns between dynamic and static stimuli for certain regions of the face. Visual scanning patterns in children with AS/HFA are consistent regardless of the stimuli being a static photo or dynamic in the form of a real face. Hence, information from experimental studies with static photos of faces provide information that is valid and can be generalised to “real world” interactions.
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