Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 41, Issue 11, pp 1556–1564 | Cite as

The Role of Alexithymia in Reduced Eye-Fixation in Autism Spectrum Conditions

  • Geoffrey Bird
  • Clare Press
  • Daniel C. Richardson
original paper


Eye-tracking studies have demonstrated mixed support for reduced eye fixation when looking at social scenes in individuals with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC). We present evidence that these mixed findings are due to a separate condition—alexithymia—that is frequently comorbid with ASC. We find that in adults with ASC, autism symptom severity correlated negatively with attention to faces when watching video clips. However, only the degree of alexithymia, and not autism symptom severity, predicted eye fixation. As well as potentially resolving the contradictory evidence in this area, these findings suggest that individuals with ASC and alexithymia may form a sub-group of individuals with ASC, with emotional impairments in addition to the social impairments characteristic of ASC.


Autism Alexithymia Eye-tracking Eye Mouth Face 



The authors wish to acknowledge the help of Jennifer Cook in administering the ADOS, conducting the IQ tests, and testing participants. We also wish to thank the volunteers who participated in this study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoffrey Bird
    • 1
    • 2
  • Clare Press
    • 3
  • Daniel C. Richardson
    • 4
  1. 1.Division of Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck CollegeUniversity of LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Institute of Cognitive NeuroscienceUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, Institute of NeurologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.Cognitive, Perceptual, and Brain Sciences, Division of Psychology and Language SciencesUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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