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Pupil Dilation Progression Modulates Aberrant Social Cognition in Autism Spectrum Disorder


Bast, Nico; Banaschewski, Tobias; Dziobek, Isabel; Brandeis, Daniel; Poustka, Luise; Freitag, Christine M (2019). Pupil Dilation Progression Modulates Aberrant Social Cognition in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism Research, 12(11):1680-1692.

Abstract

Progression of pupil dilation (PD) in response to visual stimuli may indicate distinct internal processes. No study has been performed on PD progression during a social cognition task. Here, we describe PD progression during the Movie for the Assessment of Social Cognition (MASC) test in n = 23 adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and n = 24 age, IQ and sex-matched neurotypical controls (NTC). The MASC consists of 43 video sequences depicting human social interactions, each followed by a multiple-choice question concerning characters' mental states. PD progression data were extracted by eye tracking and controlled for fixation behavior. Segmenting PD progression during video sequences by principal component analysis, three sequential PD components were unveiled. In ASD compared with NTC, a distinct PD progression was observed with increased constriction amplitude, increased dilation latency, and increased dilation amplitude that correlated with PD progression components. These components predicted social cognition performance. The first and second PD components correlated positively with MASC behavioral performance in ASD but negatively in NTC. These PD components may be interpreted as indicators of sensory-perceptual processing and attention function. In ASD, aberrant sensory-perceptual processing and attention function could contribute to attenuated social cognition performance. This needs to be tested by additional studies combining the respective cognitive tests and the outlined PD progression analysis. Phasic activity of the locus coeruleus-norepinephrine system is discussed as putatively shared underlying mechanism. Autism Res2019. © 2019 The Authors. Autism Research published by International Society for Autism Research published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. LAY SUMMARY: In adolescents with autism, we found an altered pupil dilation during watching scenes of human interactions. Early pupil dilation correlated positively with the number of correct answers to questions about the shown human interactions. Our findings suggest that aberrant sensory processing and attention function may contribute to altered social cognition in autism.

Abstract

Progression of pupil dilation (PD) in response to visual stimuli may indicate distinct internal processes. No study has been performed on PD progression during a social cognition task. Here, we describe PD progression during the Movie for the Assessment of Social Cognition (MASC) test in n = 23 adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and n = 24 age, IQ and sex-matched neurotypical controls (NTC). The MASC consists of 43 video sequences depicting human social interactions, each followed by a multiple-choice question concerning characters' mental states. PD progression data were extracted by eye tracking and controlled for fixation behavior. Segmenting PD progression during video sequences by principal component analysis, three sequential PD components were unveiled. In ASD compared with NTC, a distinct PD progression was observed with increased constriction amplitude, increased dilation latency, and increased dilation amplitude that correlated with PD progression components. These components predicted social cognition performance. The first and second PD components correlated positively with MASC behavioral performance in ASD but negatively in NTC. These PD components may be interpreted as indicators of sensory-perceptual processing and attention function. In ASD, aberrant sensory-perceptual processing and attention function could contribute to attenuated social cognition performance. This needs to be tested by additional studies combining the respective cognitive tests and the outlined PD progression analysis. Phasic activity of the locus coeruleus-norepinephrine system is discussed as putatively shared underlying mechanism. Autism Res2019. © 2019 The Authors. Autism Research published by International Society for Autism Research published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. LAY SUMMARY: In adolescents with autism, we found an altered pupil dilation during watching scenes of human interactions. Early pupil dilation correlated positively with the number of correct answers to questions about the shown human interactions. Our findings suggest that aberrant sensory processing and attention function may contribute to altered social cognition in autism.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
04 Faculty of Medicine > Neuroscience Center Zurich
04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Integrative Human Physiology
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > General Neuroscience
Health Sciences > Neurology (clinical)
Health Sciences > Genetics (clinical)
Date:1 November 2019
Deposited On:14 Aug 2019 10:24
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 11:06
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1939-3806
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/aur.2178
PubMed ID:31347301

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