Benchmark Eye Movement Effects During Natural Reading in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Philippa L. Howard, Simon P. Liversedge, Valerie Benson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 2 experiments, eye tracking methodology was used to assess on-line lexical, syntactic and semantic processing in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In Experiment 1, lexical identification was examined by manipulating the frequency of target words. Both typically developed (TD) and ASD readers showed normal frequency effects, suggesting that the processes TD and ASD readers engage in to identify words are comparable. In Experiment 2, syntactic parsing and semantic interpretation requiring the on-line use of world knowledge were examined, by having participants read garden path sentences containing an ambiguous prepositional phrase. Both groups showed normal garden path effects when reading low-attached sentences and the time course of reading disruption was comparable between groups. This suggests that not only do ASD readers hold similar syntactic preferences to TD readers, but also that they use world knowledge on-line during reading. Together, these experiments demonstrate that the initial construction of sentence interpretation appears to be intact in ASD. However, the finding that ASD readers skip target words less often in Experiment 2, and take longer to read sentences during second pass for both experiments, suggests that they adopt a more cautious reading strategy and take longer to evaluate their sentence interpretation prior to making a manual response.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-127
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


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