Viewing it differently: social scene perception in Williams syndrome and Autism


Riby D & Hancock PJB (2008) Viewing it differently: social scene perception in Williams syndrome and Autism. Neuropsychologia, 46 (11), pp. 2855-2860.

The genetic disorder Williams syndrome (WS) is associated with a propulsion towards social stimuli and interactions with people. In contrast, the neuro-developmental disorder autism is characterised by social withdrawal and lack of interest in socially relevant information. Using eye-tracking techniques we investigate how individuals with these two neuro-developmental disorders associated with distinct social characteristics view scenes containing people. The way individuals with these disorders view social stimuli may impact upon successful social interactions and communication. Whilst individuals with autism spend less time than is typical viewing people and faces in static pictures of social interactions, the opposite is apparent for those with WS whereby exaggerated fixations are prevalent towards the eyes. The results suggest more attention should be drawn towards understanding the implications of atypical social preferences in WS, in the same way that attention has been drawn to the social deficits associated with autism.

Williams syndrome; Autism; Eye-tracking; Social cognition; Eye Movements; Autism Social aspects; Williams Syndrome; Cognitive disorders

Neuropsychologia: Volume 46, Issue 11

Publication date30/09/2008
Publication date online14/05/2008