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Differential effects of anxiety and autism on social scene scanning in males with fragile X syndrome

Crawford, H.; Moss, J.; Oliver, C.; Riby, D.M.

Differential effects of anxiety and autism on social scene scanning in males with fragile X syndrome Thumbnail


H. Crawford

J. Moss

C. Oliver


Background Existing literature draws links between social attention and socio-behavioural profiles in neurodevelopmental disorders. Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is associated with a known socio-behavioural phenotype of social anxiety and social communication difficulties alongside high social motivation. However, studies investigating social attention in males with FXS are scarce. Using eye tracking, this study investigates social attention and its relationship with both anxiety and autism symptomatology in males with FXS. Methods We compared dwell times to the background, body, and face regions of naturalistic social scenes in 11 males with FXS (M age = 26.29) and 11 typically developing (TD) children who were matched on gender and receptive language ability (M age = 6.28). Using informant-report measures, we then investigated the relationships between social scene scanning and anxiety, and social scene scanning and social communicative impairments. Results Males with FXS did not differ to TD children on overall dwell time to the background, body, or face regions of the naturalistic social scenes. Whilst males with FXS displayed developmentally ‘typical’ social attention, increased looking at faces was associated with both heightened anxiety and fewer social communication impairments in this group. Conclusions These results offer novel insights into the mechanisms associated with social attention in FXS and provide evidence to suggest that anxiety and autism symptomatology, which are both heightened in FXS, have differential effects on social attention.


Crawford, H., Moss, J., Oliver, C., & Riby, D. (2017). Differential effects of anxiety and autism on social scene scanning in males with fragile X syndrome. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 9(1), Article 9.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 10, 2017
Online Publication Date Sep 25, 2017
Publication Date Sep 25, 2017
Deposit Date Feb 13, 2017
Publicly Available Date Feb 14, 2017
Journal Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Print ISSN 1866-1947
Electronic ISSN 1866-1955
Publisher BioMed Central
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 1
Article Number 9


Accepted Journal Article (737 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
© The Author(s). 2017 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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