Karaminis, T., Arrighi, R., Forth, G., Burr, D., & Pellicano, E.

Adaptation to the Speed of Biological Motion in Autism

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 50(2), 373–385

https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-019-04241-4 Download

Autistic individuals often present atypicalities in adaptation—the continuous recalibration of perceptual systems driven by recent sensory experiences. Here, we examined such atypicalities in human biological motion. We used a dual-task paradigm, including a running-speed discrimination task (‘comparing the speed of two running silhouettes’) and a change-detection task (‘detecting fixation-point shrinkages’) assessing attention. We tested 19 school-age autistic and 19 age- and ability-matched typical participants, also recording eye-movements. The two groups presented comparable speed-discrimination abilities and, unexpectedly, comparable adaptation. Accuracy in the change-detection task and the scatter of eye-fixations around the fixation point were also similar across groups. Yet, the scatter of fixations reliably predicted the magnitude of adaptation, demonstrating the importance of controlling for attention in adaptation studies.