Pupillary contagion in autism

Galazka, M. A., Åsberg Johnels, J., Zürcher, N. R., Hippolyte, L., Lemonnier, E., Billstedt, E., Gillberg, C. and Hadjikhani, N. (2019) Pupillary contagion in autism. Psychological Science, 30(2), pp. 309-315. (doi: 10.1177/0956797618809382) (PMID:30444671)

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Abstract

Pupillary contagion is an involuntary change in the observer’s pupil size in response to the pupil size of another person. This effect, presumed to be an important adaption for individuals living in groups, has been documented in both typical infants and adults. Here, for the first time, we report pupillary contagion in individuals with autism, a disorder of social communication. We found that, compared with a typical group (n = 63), individuals with autism (n = 54) exhibited comparable pupillary contagion when observing pictures of emotional faces, despite less spontaneous attention toward the eye region. Furthermore, the magnitude of the pupillary response in the autism group was negatively correlated with time spent fixating the eye region. The results suggest that even with less looking toward the eyes, individuals with autism respond to the affective and arousal levels transmitted from other individuals. These results are discussed in the context of an overarousal account of socioaffective-processing differences in autism.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Grant No. PP00P3-130191 to N. Hadjikhani) and by the LifeWatch Foundation.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gillberg, Professor Christopher
Authors: Galazka, M. A., Åsberg Johnels, J., Zürcher, N. R., Hippolyte, L., Lemonnier, E., Billstedt, E., Gillberg, C., and Hadjikhani, N.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Journal Name:Psychological Science
Publisher:SAGE
ISSN:0956-7976
ISSN (Online):1467-9280
Published Online:16 November 2018

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