A temporally sustained implicit theory of mind deficit in autism spectrum disorders

Schneider, Dana, Slaughter, Virginia P., Bayliss, Andrew P. and Dux, Paul E. (2013) A temporally sustained implicit theory of mind deficit in autism spectrum disorders. Cognition, 129 2: 410-417. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2013.08.004

Author Schneider, Dana
Slaughter, Virginia P.
Bayliss, Andrew P.
Dux, Paul E.
Title A temporally sustained implicit theory of mind deficit in autism spectrum disorders
Journal name Cognition   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0010-0277
Publication date 2013-01-01
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.cognition.2013.08.004
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 129
Issue 2
Start page 410
End page 417
Total pages 8
Place of publication Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier BV
Language eng
Subject 3310 Linguistics and Language
2805 Cognitive Neuroscience
3205 Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
1203 Design Practice and Management
3204 Developmental and Educational Psychology
Abstract Eye movements during false-belief tasks can reveal an individual's capacity to implicitly monitor others' mental states (theory of mind - ToM). It has been suggested, based on the results of a single-trial-experiment, that this ability is impaired in those with a high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD), despite neurotypical-like performance on explicit ToM measures. However, given there are known attention differences and visual hypersensitivities in ASD it is important to establish whether such impairments are evident over time. In addition, investigating implicit ToM using a repeated trial approach allows an assessment of whether learning processes can reduce the ASD impairment in this ability, as is the case with explicit ToM. Here we investigated the temporal profile of implicit ToM in individuals with ASD and a control group. Despite similar performance on explicit ToM measures, ASD-diagnosed individuals showed no evidence of implicit false-belief tracking even over a one-hour period and many trials, whereas control participants did. These findings demonstrate that the systems involved in implicit and explicit ToM are distinct and hint that impaired implicit false-belief tracking may play an important role in ASD. Further, they indicate that learning processes do not alleviate this impairment across the presentation of multiple trials.
Keyword Autism spectrum disorders
Eye Movements
Implicit theory of mind
Social cognition
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Grant ID DP0986387
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 40 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Fri, 15 Nov 2013, 11:52:40 EST by Dr Paul Dux on behalf of School of Psychology