Aim: to investigate if high functioning adults with autism or Asperger syndrome syndrome would be impaired on theory of mind task: Reading the mind in the eyes task.
If females would be better than males on the ‘Reading the Mind in the Eyes Task’
Three groups of participants were tested – participants with autism or Asperger syndrome ‘normal’ adults and participants withTourette syndrome.
Group 1: 16 participants autism/ Asperger syndrome. All of normal intelligence. 13 men and 3 women.
Group 2: fifty age-matched controls (25 male and 25 female) with no history of psychiatric disorder and of normal intelligence (presumed)
Group 3: ten participants with Tourette syndrome. These participants were also age matched with groups 1 and 2. There were eight men and two women, mirroring the sex ratio of group 1. They were all of normal intelligence.
It was expected that only participants in group1 (autism and Asperger syndrome) would be significantly impaired on the eye task.
The Eyes Task comprises of photographs of the eye region of 25 different male and female faces. Each picture was shown for three seconds and participants were given a forced choice question between two mental states printed under each picture. The foil word was always the semantic opposite of the correct word. The maximum score on this test is 25. As predicted high functioning adults with autism or Asperger syndrome did have more difficulties with the Eye Task than both ‘normal’ adults and adults with Tourette syndrome. Mean score on the Eye Task Adults with autism or Asperger syndrome = 16.3 'Normal' adults = 20.3 Adults with Tourette syndrome = 20.4 It was also found that ‘normal’ adult males had more difficulties with the Eye Task than ‘normal’ adult females.