How Does Eye Gaze Affect Vocal Imitation in Autism?

Abstract

Earlier studies showed an important role of vocal imitation in social interactions. At least some kinds of social imitative behavior, including gesture and pitch adaptation, appear to be triggered by direct eye gaze (Wang, Ramsey & Hamilton, 2011). Past research indicated that autistic individuals may have difficulties with both shared gaze focus and joint attention. Therefore, we might expect that their vocal imitative behavior would differ from the behavior of TD individuals. In our study, we explored vocal imitation by autistic speakers in an experiment with stimuli eliciting eye contact (shared focus), joint attention or a disruption of eye contact.


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