Poster D29, Monday, March 27, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
I Like the Way You Move: Increased Value of Biological Motion in Individuals with Few Autistic Traits
Elin Williams1, Emily S Cross1; 1Bangor University
Individuals with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) characteristically demonstrate impaired eye-contact during social interactions and look less towards faces than typically developing (TD) individuals. The Social Motivation Theory of Autism posits that this is due to a reduced sensitivity to the value of social stimuli, specifically faces, in ASD. Research has also demonstrated that TD individuals preferentially orient towards another type of salient social stimulus, namely biological motion. Individuals with ASD, however, do not show the aforementioned behaviours. Although the reward value of faces to TD and ASD individuals has been investigated, it remains unknown how rewarding both populations find biological motion. The present study investigated the value assigned to biological and non-biological motion by TD participants, and further examined whether reward values differed in individuals with more autistic traits. Videos of a human performing smooth, natural movements were used as a proxy for biological motion, and videos of a human performing rigid, robotic movements were used as a proxy for non-biological motion. Autistic traits were measured in TD adults who then completed an innovative behavioural paradigm that measures stimuli preference. The results suggest that TD participants prefer biological, or human-like, motion, in comparison to non-human-like motion. However, this preference appears to be weaker in individuals with more autistic traits. This study helps us to begin to understand whether individuals with ASD assign a reduced reward value to faces alone, or whether these individuals find a broader conceptualisation of social stimuli less rewarding compared to TD individuals.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Other