This study was designed to ascertain the relationship between visual attention for social information and oxytocin (OT) levels in Japanese preschool children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We hypothesized that poor visual attention for social information and low OT levels are crucially important risk factors associated with ASD. We measured the pattern of gaze fixation for social information using an eye-tracking system, and salivary OT levels by the Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA). There was a positive association between salivary OT levels and fixation duration for an indicated object area in a finger-pointing movie in typically developing (TD) children. However, no association was found between these variables in children with ASD. Moreover, age decreased an individual's attention to people moving and pointed-at objects, but increased attention for mouth-in-the-face recognition, geometric patterns, and biological motions. Thus, OT levels likely vary during visual attention for social information between TD children and those with ASD. Further, aging in preschool children has considerable effect on visual attention for social information.
Fujisawa, T. X., Tanaka, S., Saito, D. N., Kosaka, H., & Tomoda, A. (2014). Visual attention for social information and salivary oxytocin levels in preschool children with autism spectrum disorders: An eye-tracking study. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 8(SEP). https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2014.00295