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Pupillary Contagion in Autism.

Journal article
Authors Martyna A Galazka
Jakob Åsberg Johnels
Nicole R Zürcher
Loyse Hippolyte
Eric Lemonnier
Eva Billstedt
Christopher Gillberg
Nouchine Hadjikhani
Published in Psychological science
Volume 30
Issue 2
Pages 309-315
ISSN 1467-9280
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Health and Rehabilitation
Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre
Pages 309-315
Language en
Subject categories Child and adolescent psychiatry


Pupillary contagion is an involuntary change in the observer's pupil size in response to the pupil size of another person. This effect, presumed to be an important adaption for individuals living in groups, has been documented in both typical infants and adults. Here, for the first time, we report pupillary contagion in individuals with autism, a disorder of social communication. We found that, compared with a typical group ( n = 63), individuals with autism ( n = 54) exhibited comparable pupillary contagion when observing pictures of emotional faces, despite less spontaneous attention toward the eye region. Furthermore, the magnitude of the pupillary response in the autism group was negatively correlated with time spent fixating the eye region. The results suggest that even with less looking toward the eyes, individuals with autism respond to the affective and arousal levels transmitted from other individuals. These results are discussed in the context of an overarousal account of socioaffective-processing differences in autism.

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Utskriftsdatum: 2020-08-14