Attentional shifts between audition and vision in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Valeria Occelli*, Gianluca Esposito, Paola Venuti, Giuseppe Maurizio Arduino, Massimiliano Zampini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Previous evidence on neurotypical adults shows that the presentation of a stimulus allocates the attention to its modality, resulting in faster responses to a subsequent target presented in the same (vs. different) modality. People with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) often fail to detect a (visual or auditory) target in a stream of stimuli after shifting attention between modalities, possibly because they do not fully switch their attention from one modality to the other. In this study, the performance of a group of high-functioning patients with ASDs and a group of neurotypical controls was compared. Participants were asked to detect a target, auditory or visual, which was preceded, at different temporal intervals (i.e., 150, 600, 1000 ms), by an uninformative cue, either in the same or a different modality. In controls, when the target was visual, the cue modality did not affect performance. Unlike, when the target was auditory, a visual cue produced longer reaction times as compared to when it was auditory. In the ASD group, irrespectively of the modality of the cue, a slowing-down of responses to the target was observed at increasing temporal intervals. The discrepancy of performance is consistent with the 'over-focused' theory of sensory processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-525
Number of pages9
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2013


  • Attention
  • Auditory
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs)
  • Multisensory
  • Shifting
  • Visual


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