An eye on autism

A test that measures rapid eye movements could be used to identify a sub-group of patients with autism spectrum disorder


Tracking rapid eye movements could help clinicians to identify a sub-group of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) whose cerebellum structure is altered.

Research published in the European Journal of Neuroscience is based on a study where scientists tracked the eye movements of participants with ASD, who were asked to look at a moving target on a screen.

The task was designed so the focus of the participant would overshoot the target. In people without ASD, the brain adjusts eye movements as the experiment is repeated.

But those with ASD continued to miss the target suggesting that the motor controls in the part of the brain responsible for eye movement are impaired.

Study author, Dr John Foxe, said: “These findings build upon a growing field of research that show eye movement could serve as a window into a part of the brain that plays a role in a number of neurological and developmental disorders, such as autism.”