Chiara Tortelli, Marco Turi, David C. Burr & Paola Binda

Pupillary Responses Obey Emmert’s Law and Co-vary with Autistic Traits

J Autism Dev Disord (2020)

https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-020-04718-7 Download

We measured the pupil response to a light stimulus subject to a size illusion and found that stimuli perceived as larger evoke a stronger pupillary response. The size illusion depends on combining retinal signals with contextual 3D information; contextual processing is thought to vary across individuals, being weaker in individuals with stronger autistic traits. Consistent with this theory, autistic traits correlated negatively with the magnitude of pupil modulations in our sample of neurotypical adults; however, psychophysical measurements of the illusion did not correlate with autistic traits, or with the pupil modulations. This shows that pupillometry provides an accurate objective index of complex perceptual processes, particularly useful for quantifying interindividual differences, and potentially more informative than standard psychophysical measures.