April is Autism Awareness Month, and we here at Tobii Pro are excited to bring you the latest research within the autism community. We spoke to several leading researchers in this field about their promising and innovative research using eye tracking and in this blog article we will explore how this technology has helped shape their work. Historically, research has focused on examining the development and deficits of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but recent strides have been made to examine the differential strengths of individuals with ASD.
Eye tracking has long been used as a methodology to study the development of ASD, as it is a tool that measures visual behavior and tells us specifics like where and for how long an individual looks at something. When asked about the advantages of eye tracking research, Joshua Wade, a researcher in mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt University remarked, “Eye tracking provides a very immediate and interpretable measure of the attention of an individual, which is something that no other biomarker… will provide. You get to know in real-time effectively, where a person is allocating their attention, which tells you all about mental processing.” Today, eye tracking is a highly regarded tool within ASD research as it facilitates the accurate tracking of an individual’s gaze. This information provides objective insight into human behavior and interaction, as a proxy for cognitive and neural functioning.