Anticipation of action intentions in autism spectrum disorder.
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We investigated whether individuals with a mild form of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are influenced by an actor's gaze direction when anticipating how an observed action will continue in the immediate future. Participants observed a head rotate towards them, while the gaze direction was either leading, or lagging behind, rotation. They also observed identical rotations of a cylinder containing the geometrical equivalent of the gaze manipulation. The control group was influenced by the gaze manipulations for the animate but not the inanimate stimulus. The ASD group did not discriminate between the stimuli, showing a similar influence for both. This suggests that the ASD responses in the animate condition were biased by the low-level directional features of the eyes rather than by the conveyed intentions.
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