Eyes are special but not for everyone: the case of autism

Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2005 Aug;24(3):715-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cogbrainres.2005.02.007. Epub 2005 Mar 17.


Current research indicates that human gaze direction is a special cue for shifting attention for one of two reasons: (1) it reflects social desires and intentions and (2) its basic perceptual features usually correspond to important events in the environment. This study, conducted with individuals with autism and with age- and IQ-matched typically developing individuals, dissociates these two often-confounded explanations and demonstrates that eyes appear to be special for typically developing individuals because of their social power, whereas gaze effects are mediated by feature correspondence among persons with autism.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology*
  • Eye
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Humans
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Perception