Delayed disengagement of attention from snakes in children with autism

Tomoko Isomura, Shino Ogawa, Masahiro Shibasaki, Nobuo Masataka*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


In the visual search task, it is well known that detection of a tilted straight line as the target among vertical lines that act as distractors is easier than vice versa, and that detection of a snake image as the target among flower images is easier than vice versa. In this study, the degree of such search asymmetry was compared between 18 children with autism and 14 typically developing (TD) children. The results revealed that compared to TD children, children with autism were disproportionally slow when asked to detect the flower among the snake images, suggesting the possibility that they experienced difficulty of disengaging their attention from the snake images. This delayed disengagement would serve itself as an enhanced attentional bias toward snakes in children with autism that is similar to characteristics of visual search performance in anxiety patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number00241
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberMAR
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention
  • Autism
  • Biological adaptation
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Snake fear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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