Atypical eye contact in autism: models, mechanisms and development

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2009 Sep;33(8):1204-14. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2009.06.001. Epub 2009 Jun 16.


An atypical pattern of eye contact behaviour is one of the most significant symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Recent empirical advances have revealed the developmental, cognitive and neural basis of atypical eye contact behaviour in ASD. We review different models and advance a new 'fast-track modulator model'. Specifically, we propose that atypical eye contact processing in ASD originates in the lack of influence from a subcortical face and eye contact detection route, which is hypothesized to modulate eye contact processing and guide its emergent specialization during development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autistic Disorder / physiopathology
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology*
  • Cognition
  • Concept Formation
  • Eye Movements*
  • Fixation, Ocular*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Nonverbal Communication / psychology*
  • Social Behavior*