Distinctive movement patterns during embodied interaction by adults with HFA

Our latest analyses suggest that mutual gaze avoidance by people with autism could generalize to mutual touch avoidance during embodied interaction.

Multi-scale coordination of distinctive movement patterns during embodied interaction between adults with high-functioning autism and neurotypicals

Leonardo Zapata-Fonseca, Dobromir G. Dotov, Ruben Y. Fossion, Tom Froese, Leonhard Schilbach, Kai Vogeley, and Bert Timmermans

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be understood as a social interaction disorder. This requires researchers to take a “second-person” stance and to use experimental setups based on bidirectional interactions. The present work offers a quantitative description of movement patterns exhibited during computer mediated real-time sensorimotor interaction in 10 dyads of adult participants, each consisting of one control individual (CTRL) and one individual with high functioning autism (HFA). We applied time-series analyses to their movements and found two main results. First, multi-scale coordination between participants was present. Second, despite this dyadic alignment and our previous finding that individuals with HFA can be equally sensitive to the other’s presence, individuals’ movements differed in style: in contrast to CTRLs, HFA participants appeared less inclined to sustain mutual interaction and instead explored the virtual environment more generally. This finding is consistent with social motivation deficit accounts of ASD, as well as with hypersensitivity-motivated avoidance of overstimulation. Our research demonstrates the utility of time series analyses for the second-person stance and complements previous work focused on non-dynamical and performance-based variables.

perceptual crossing