ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (3): 508-521.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2019.00508

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The gaze processing impairment in individuals with autism spectrum disorder: A perspective from the two-process theory

JING Wei, WANG Tingzhao()   

  1. College of Education, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an 710062, China
  • Received:2018-03-05 Online:2019-03-15 Published:2019-01-22
  • Contact: Tingzhao WANG


Eye gaze is important social information in social interaction. However, clinical naturalistic observation found that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) individuals are impaired in gaze processing in the first year of life. In particular, individuals with ASD are unable to make eye contact with others and follow others' gaze to look at the target object. Furthermore, experimental studies found that while individuals with ASD presented impaired eye contact, there was contradictory phenomenon of a normal and abnormal coexistence in experimental contexts in gaze following of individuals with ASD. Based on the two- process theory of gaze processing, the group's subcortical pathway is born with functional abnormality, while the cortical pathway develops atypically, which is assumed as the neural mechanism of gaze processing impairment in individuals with ASD. However, the theoretical hypothesis still lacks the direct evidence supporting that the congenital functional abnormality of the subcortical pathway is the neural mechanism of eye contact impairment. Further studies are needed to investigate the effect of the congenital functional abnormality of the subcortical pathway on gaze following impairment and the neural circuit and early formation process of the compensation mechanism of the cortical pathway.

Key words: autism spectrum disorder, eye contact impairment, gaze following impairment, two-process theory

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