Deficits in the initiation of eye movements in the absence of a visual target in adolescents with high functioning autism

M. C. Goldberg, A. G. Lasker, D. S. Zee, E. Garth, A. Tien, R. J. Landa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


Background: We used ocular motor paradigms to examine whether or not saccades are impaired in individuals with high functioning autism (HFA). Methods: We recorded eye movements in patients with HFA (n=11), and in normal adolescents (n=11) on anti-saccade, memory-guided saccade (MGS), predictive saccade and gap/overlap tasks. Results: Compared with the normal subjects, patients with HFA had (1) a significantly higher percentage of directional errors on the anti-saccade task (63.2% versus 26.6%), (2) a significantly higher percentage of response suppression errors on a MGS task (60.3% versus 29.5%) and (3) a significantly lower percentage of predictive eye movements on a predictive saccade task. They also showed longer latencies on a MGS task and for all conditions tested on a gap/null/overlap task (fixation target extinguished before, simultaneously, or after the new peripheral target appeared). When the latencies during the gap condition were subtracted from the latencies in the overlap condition, there was no difference between patients and normals. Conclusions: Abnormalities in ocular motor function in patients with HFA provide preliminary evidence for involvement of a number of brain regions in HFA including the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) and the frontal eye fields (FEFs) and possibly the basal ganglia and parietal lobes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2039-2049
Number of pages11
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2002


  • Eye movements
  • High functioning autism (HFA)
  • Ocular motor
  • Saccades

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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