A collaborative study by researchers in India and Japan led to the conclusion that individuals with autism can be trained to understand social cues. They made use of infra-red technology and gaze training techniques to achieve the desired results among the participants.
The study was conducted jointly by Dr Mrinmoy Chakrabarty from Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Delhi, Dr Takao Fukui from Tokyo Metropolitan University and Dr Makuto Wada from National Rehabilitation Centre for Persons with Disabilities. Participants of the study, individuals with autism, were presented with images of faces with continuously shifting spatial locations, with the researchers noting their eye gaze.
“The study explored how older adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) perform on a face-following task relative to their Typically Developing (TD) peers, wherein the gaze direction of the faces either predicted the future position of the face (gaze condition) or provided no directional cue (no-gaze condition),” informed a press release issued by IIIT-D.
While the ASD participants fixated less on the eye region of the face, they still could utilize the gaze direction cues to perform smooth gaze shifts, at par with their TD peers, informed the institute. In the second half of the study, those with ASD showed a more appropriate gaze shift. A few trials later, their gaze fixed on the eye region of the face irrespective of the displacement of the picture. “This implies that those who show more autistic traits may benefit from short-duration (i.e., less than 15 min) gaze-cue training,” it added.