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Blink Inhibition Patterns Differ with ASD

By Shana R. Spindler, Ph.D. on December 26, 2011


Overview: Two-year-old children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have different blinking patterns than typical two-year-olds in response to social stimuli, report researchers in the 12 December online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Background: In the study, 41 children with ASD and 52 typical children were shown a video of a young boy and girl playing. Researchers measured the childrens' rate of blinking during the video.


What's new: Typical children blinked fewer times during the emotional scenes, supposedly to capture more visual information—known as blink inhibition. In contrast, children with ASD had a delayed blink inhibition during the emotional parts of the video. The researchers suggest that the children with ASD lacked the ability to predict an emotional event based on social cues alone and instead used physical cues to interpret the events in the video, leading to a delayed blink inhibition.


Why it's important: According to the researchers, the study’s findings indicate that blink inhibition measurement may serve as a marker for atypical social processing in toddlers.


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