Feasibility of a 2-minute eye-tracking protocol to support the early identification of autism

Lacey Chetcuti, Kandice J. Varcin, Maryam Boutrus, Jodie Smith, Catherine A. Bent, Andrew J.O. Whitehouse, Kristelle Hudry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We tested the potential for Gazefinder eye-tracking to support early autism identification, including feasible use with infants, and preliminary concurrent validity of trial-level gaze data against clinical assessment scores. We embedded the ~ 2-min ‘Scene 1S4’ protocol within a comprehensive clinical assessment for 54 consecutively-referred, clinically-indicated infants (prematurity-corrected age 9–14 months). Alongside % tracking rate as a broad indicator of feasible assessment/data capture, we report infant gaze data to pre-specified regions of interest (ROI) across four trial types and associations with scores on established clinical/behavioural tools. Most infants tolerated Gazefinder eye-tracking well, returning high overall % tracking rate. As a group, infants directed more gaze towards social vs. non-social (or more vs. less socially-salient) ROIs within trials. Behavioural autism features were correlated with increased gaze towards non-social/geometry (vs. social/people) scenes. No associations were found for gaze directed to ROIs within other stimulus types. Notably, there were no associations between developmental/cognitive ability or adaptive behaviour with gaze towards any ROI. Gazefinder assessment seems highly feasible with clinically-indicated infants, and the people vs. geometry stimuli show concurrent predictive validity for behavioural autism features. Aggregating data across the ~ 2-min autism identification protocol might plausibly offer greater utility than stimulus-level analysis alone.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5117
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2024


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