Sentence processing in autism spectrum disorder: European Conference of Eye Movement Research

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

Research output: Published contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Text comprehension is often poor in readers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, little is known about underlying linguistic processing differences that underpin such poor comprehension. In two experiments, the eye-movements of adults with and without ASD were monitored as they read sentences. In Experiment 1, lexical identification was examined by manipulating word frequency. In Experiment 2, parsing preferences and the speed with which world knowledge was used during reading, were examined through the use of sentences containing ambiguous prepositional phrases. Both the control and ASD group showed normal word frequency effects that were evident during the first fixation on the target word (Experiment 1). Disruption to reading was first evident for both groups in single fixation durations on the target word that disambiguated the prepositional phrase attachment ambiguity (Experiment 2). The magnitude and immediacy of this disruption did not differ between groups. ASD participants however, engaged in more second pass reading, in both experiments. This may indicate that ASD readers took longer to make a judgement that their interpretation of the sentence was reasonable. Overall, the results indicate that TD and ASD groups engage in comparable processes to identify words, hold similar syntactic preferences and use world knowledge online.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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