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Atypical gaze patterns in autism are heterogeneous across subjects but reliable within individuals

Keleş, Ümit and Kliemann, Dorit and Byrge, Lisa and Saarimäki, Heini and Paul, Lynn K. and Kennedy, Daniel P. and Adolphs, Ralph (2021) Atypical gaze patterns in autism are heterogeneous across subjects but reliable within individuals. . (Unpublished)

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People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have atypical gaze onto both static visual images and dynamic videos that could be leveraged for diagnostic purposes. Eye tracking is important for characterizing ASD across the lifespan and nowadays feasible at home (e.g., from smartphones). Yet gaze-based classification has been difficult to achieve, due to sources of variance both across and within subjects. Here we test three competing hypotheses: (a) that ASD could be successfully classified from the fact that gaze patterns are less reliable or noisier than in controls, (b) that gaze patterns are atypical and heterogeneous across ASD subjects but reliable over time within a subject, or (c) that gaze patterns are individually reliable and also homogenous among individuals with ASD. Leveraging dense eye tracking data from two different full-length television sitcom episodes in a total of over 150 subjects (N = 53 ASD, 107 controls) collected at two different sites, we demonstrate support for the second of these hypotheses. The findings pave the way for the investigation of autism subtypes, and for elucidating the specific visual features that best discriminate gaze patterns — directions that will also inform neuroimaging and genetic studies of this complex disorder.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Discussion Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Paul, Lynn K.0000-0002-3128-8313
Adolphs, Ralph0000-0002-8053-9692
Additional Information:The copyright holder for this preprint is the author/funder, who has granted bioRxiv a license to display the preprint in perpetuity. This version posted July 2, 2021. This research was supported in part by grant R01MH110630 from NIMH (DPK/RA), the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (RA), the Simons Foundation Collaboration on the Global Brain (542951; UK), and a Della Martin Fellowship (DK). We are grateful for Tim Armstrong and Steven Lograsso for help with data collection, and to all of our participants and their families for their participation in this time-intensive study. We thank David Kahn for useful discussions regarding the project. Author contributions: DPK, LB, and RA designed the study. LKP and DPK recruited and assessed subjects. DK, SL, and Indiana University personnel collected data. UK pre-processed data, ensured data quality, and conducted all analyses. RA and UK drafted the paper and all co-authors provided extensive discussions and edits. The authors declare no competing interests.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Simons Foundation542951
Della Martin FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:autism; autism spectrum disorder; eye tracking; saliency; classification
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210707-152805383
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Atypical gaze patterns in autism are heterogeneous across subjects but reliable within individuals. Umit Keles, Dorit Kliemann, Lisa Byrge, Heini Saarimäki, Lynn K. Paul, Daniel P. Kennedy, Ralph Adolphs. bioRxiv 2021.07.01.450793; doi:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:109738
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:08 Jul 2021 17:18
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 19:37

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