Saturday, March 21, 2009

Do Faces Capture the Attention of Individuals with Williams Syndrome or Autism? Evidence from Tracking Eye Movements

Dr. Deborah M. Riby has contacted me with info about her work. I have uploaded several of her abstracts to Mainos Memos for you to read and then to seek out the full paper. You can contact Dr. Riby at the

School of Psychology, Newcastle University, Ridley Building 1,
Framlington Place, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK
e-mail: [email protected] DM


The neuro-developmental disorders of Williams syndrome (WS) and autism can reveal key components of social cognition. Eye-tracking techniques were applied in two tasks exploring attention to pictures containing faces. Images were (i) scrambled pictures containing faces or (ii) pictures of scenes with embedded faces. Compared to individuals who were developing typically, participants with WS and autism showed atypicalities of gaze behaviour. Individuals with WS showed prolonged face gaze across tasks, relating to the typical WS social phenotype.Participants with autism exhibited reduced face gaze, linking to a lack of interest in socially relevant information. The findings are interpreted in terms of wider issues regarding socio-cognition and attention mechanisms.

Tracking eye movements proves informative for the study of gaze direction detection in autism


Considerable research effort has been dedicated to exploring how well children with autistic spectrum disorders infer eye gaze direction from the face of an actor. Here we combine task
performance (accuracy to correctly label a target item) and eye movement information (‘where’ the participant fixates when completing the task) to understand more about the components involved in completing eye direction detection tasks. Fifteen participants with autism were significantly less accurate at interpreting eye direction and detecting a target item (array sizes 4 and 6 items) than typically developing participants of comparable nonverbal ability. Eye movement data revealed subtly different fixation patterns for participants with and without autism that might contribute to differences in overall task performance. Although the amount of time spent fixating on the target item did not differ across groups, participants with autism took significantly longer to complete several components of the task and fixate upon the regions of the picture required for task completion (e.g. face or target). The data have implications for the design of tasks for individuals with autism and provide insights into the usefulness of including measures of visual attention in understanding task performance.

For additional info contact:

Dr. Debbie Riby
School of Psychology
Newcastle University
Ridley Building 1
Framlington Place

Direct Line: 0191 222 6557


Looking at movies and cartoons: eye-tracking from Williams syndrome and autism


Background Autism and Williams syndrome (WS) are neuro-developmental disorders associated with distinct social phenotypes.While individuals with autism show a lack of interest in socially important cues, individuals with WS often show increased interest in socially relevant information. Methods The current eye-tracking study explores how individuals with WS and autism preferentially attend to social scenes and movie extracts containing human actors and cartoon characters. The proportion of gaze time spent fixating on faces, bodies and the scene background was investigated. Results While individuals with autism preferentially attended to characters’ faces for less time than was typical, individuals with WS attended to the same regions for longer than typical. For individuals with autism atypical gaze behaviours extended across human actor and cartoon images or movies but for WS atypicalities were restricted to human actors. Conclusions The reported gaze behaviours provide experimental evidence of the divergent social interests associated with autism and WS.

Correspondence: Dr Deborah Riby, School of Psychology, Newcastle University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK (e-mail: [email protected]).

Viewing it differently: Social scene perception in Williams syndrome and Autism

Viewing it differently: Social scene perception in Williams syndrome and Autism
Deborah M. Ribya, Peter J.B. Hancock

A b s t r a c t

The genetic disorder Williams syndrome (WS) is associated with a propulsion towards social stimuli and interactions with people. In contrast, the neuro-developmental disorder autism is characterised by social withdrawal and lack of interest in socially relevant information. Using eye-tracking techniques we investigate how individuals with these two neuro-developmental disorders associated with distinct social characteristics view scenes containing people. The way individuals with these disorders view social stimuli may impact upon successful social interactions and communication. Whilst individuals with autism spend less time than is typical viewing people and faces in static pictures of social interactions, the opposite is apparent for those with WS whereby exaggerated fixations are prevalent towards the eyes. The results suggest more attention should be drawn towards understanding the implications of atypical social preferences in WS, in the same way that attention has been drawn to the social deficits associated with Autism.

Comments: Dr. Ribya found this blog and sent me her articles since she correctly surmised that I am interested in these topics. If you'd like more info on her research you can contact her at [email protected] DM

Stress May Cause The Brain To Become Disconnected

...It cannot yet be said that reductions in cortical volumes in patients with PTSD reflect reductions in the number of synapses. However, these findings underscore the potential importance of studying post-mortem human tissue to determine whether humans also show this pattern of neural changes. Dr. Krystal notes that “settling this issue could help us to better understand recent epidemiologic data suggesting that most of the adjustment problems of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) or post-concussive syndrome are attributable to PTSD.” ...

Hyperbaric Treatment For Autism Reports Significant Clinical Improvements

...Hyperbaric treatment for children with autism has reportedly led to improvements in the condition, though previous studies were uncontrolled. Now, a new study is the first controlled trial to report clinical improvements.

Hyperbaric therapy traditionally involves inhaling up to 100% oxygen at a pressure greater than 1 atmosphere (atm) in a pressurized chamber. In the first randomized, controlled, double-blind multicenter trial, Dan Rossignol and colleagues, from six centers in the USA, studied 62 children, aged 2-7 years, to assess the efficacy of hyperbaric treatment in children with autism....

Ozone Shots As Effective As Surgery for Back Pain

...Ozone gas injected into herniated disks may relieve back-related pain and disability without the risks of surgery, researchers said. ...The improvements were well above clinical significance thresholds and comparable to surgical discectomy,...

Extra Eye Protection a Must for Interventional Radiologists

...Cataracts could prematurely end the career of interventional radiologists who simply adhere to radiation exposure guidelines without taking additional protective steps...

Free Audio Books

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Baby Clothes for Babies Who Wear Glasses

Kids books about kids and glasses

Little Four Eyes

...Chelsea has worn glasses since she was 2 and is currently doing vision therapy to strengthen one eye. She has graciously agreed to answer some questions about doing vision therapy. She previously did an interview with us on growing up with glasses. You can read more of her writing on her blog, Roots and Rings. - Ann Z....

Comments: This is a blog about a child doing optometric vision therapy. It's kinda cool! DM

Is it ADHD or Convergence Insufficiency? Watch this Video

Common Vision Problem Often Misdiagnosed As ADHD

Inattention, inability to focus, lack of interest in academic activities--they're symptoms frequently associated with ADHD.

Healthwatch reporter Kellye Lynn explains if you think your child has ADHD or a learning problem, it could be a commonly misdiagnosed vision problem that glasses won't fix.

It's called convergence insufficiency. It's a common eye disorder that makes close up tasks like reading and writing difficult....

New therapy for eye problem:Video on CI

...An adult can be tested for 20/20 vision, and a school eye exam can report perfect vision for a child, but still there may be a common vision problem that can cause tiredness or attention problems when reading or doing a close-up task.

Now new research shows it's easy to fix.

Thirteen-year-old Anna Dicks tried telling adults about a vision problem.

"The words would kind of swim around on the page after like 5 minutes of reading," said Anna.

That would make her want to stop reading.

"She had trouble with things moving around on the page. She had trouble with seeing stripes they made her eyes dizzy and she would get tired when she'd read," said her mother Jan Dicks. ...

Comments: As you may know, optometric vision therapy is not new. It's been used for decades to treat a wide variety of vision disorders. Also treatment is NOT easy. It takes a dedicated patient and any treatment regimine does if it is going to be successful. But you will succeed. Reading will get better. Your headaches will be reduced or eliminated....and as the NEI CITT study showed, your quality of life will improve. Do it. DM

Meetings around the country!

Vision Expo East
Courses # 2120, 2220, 2320, and 2420
March 26-29, 2009
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
New York City, New York

Learning Related Visual Problems in Baltimore City; A Long-Term Project
Speaker: Dr. Paul Harris
March 29, 2009
New England College of Optometry
Boston, Massachusetts
Contact: Nika Nunley

OptoWest 2009
April 2-5, 2009
Hyatt Grand Champions Resort
Indian Wells, California

Southern California Vision Therapist Forum
April 17-18, 2009
Handlery Hotel
San Diego, California
Contact: [email protected]

Robert Wold, Southern California Behavioral Vision Seminar
Presenting: Carl G. Hillier, O.D., FCOVD
April 19-20, 2009
Handlery Hotel
San Diego, California
Contact: [email protected]

Binocular Vision & Pediatrics Forum and the Children's Learning Forum
April 23 - 24, 2009
Holiday Inn on the Lane
Columbus, Ohio
Contact: Marjean Taylor Kulp, OD, MS

77th International Conference on Light and Vision
College of Syntonic Optometry
April 30-May 2, 2009
Fallsview Marriott
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Contact: Ron Wahlmeier

2009 Eastern States Conference Crowne Plaza
May 16- 17, 2009
White Plains, NY
Contact: Stuart Rothman, O.D.

Acquired Brain Injury/Traumatic Brain Injury
May 16-18, 2009
Baltimore, Maryland
Contact: Theresa Krejci

VT/Learning Related Visual Problems
June 4-8, 2009
Baltimore, Maryland
Contact: Theresa Krejci

Joint Conference on Clinical and Theoretical Optometry
June 4-8, 2009
Pacific University
Forest Grove, Oregon
Contact: Sally Corngold

AOA Congress
June 24-28, 2009
Washington, D.C.

The Art & Science of Optometric Care-A Behavioral Perspective
July 11-15, 2009
Memphis, Tennessee
Contact: Theresa Krejci

Regional Clinical Seminar
July 11-15, 2009
Memphis, Tennessee
Contact: Diane Serex-Dougan

Colorado Vision Summit
August 1-2, 2009
Colorado Convention Center
Denver, Colorado
Contact: Barbara Zablotny

VT/Visual Dysfunctions
August 27-31, 2009
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Contact: Theresa Krejci

VT/Strabismus & Amblyopia
September 10-13, 2009
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Contact: Theresa Krejci

40th Annual Colorado Vision Training Conference
September 11 - 13 2009
Estes Park, Colorado
Contact: George Hertneky, O.D.

Northeast Congress
September 13-14, 2009
Westford Regency Inn
Westford, Massachusetts
Contact: Dr. Kathleen A. Prucnal

COVD 39th Annual Meeting
College of Optometrists in Vision Development
October 13-17, 2009
Denver Marriott Tech Center
Denver, Colorado

VT/Learning Related Visual Problems
November 5-9, 2009
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Contact: Theresa Krejci

VT/Visual Dysfunctions
December 2-6, 2009
Phoenix, Arizona
Contact: Theresa Krejci

6th International Congress of Behavioral Optometry
April 8-11, 2010
Southern California
Contact: Bob Williams

AOA Congress
June 16-20, 2010
Orlando, Florida

COVD 40th Annual Meeting
College of Optometrists in Vision Development
October 12-16, 2010
Rio Mar Beach Resort
Rio Grande, Puerto Rico

AOA Congress
June 15-19, 2011
Salt Lake City, Utah

COVD Call for Papers

Call for Papers

COVD is soliciting abstracts for papers and posters to be presented at the COVD 39th Annual Meeting.
Submission deadline is June 15, 2009.

COVD 39th Meeting

Plan to Attend the COVD Annual Meeting

It's hard to imagine October is just around the corner when we're halfway through March. But the time to start planning for October is now. Plan to attend the COVD 39th Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado.

COVD 39th Annual Meeting
Denver, Colorado
Denver Marriott Tech Center
October 13-17, 2009

Save the Date!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Preterm birth can have persistent effect

...Being born too early can do lasting damage. A team reports that many 12-year-olds who were born prematurely with a very low birth weight have lower IQs and more developmental problems than similarly aged children who were born at term.....

Mental Exhaustion Impedes Physical Performance

...Mental exhaustion may lead people to believe they are physical fatigued sooner than normal, a new study suggests....A United Kingdom study found that performing mentally fatiguing tasks before a physical exercise caused people to hit the wall faster than if they performed the same exercises while having a rested mind, even though the mental tiredness didn't affect the performance of the subjects' heart or muscles....

Comments: If you think you are tired...well, you ARE tired! DM

Cultivating strong relationship with doctor seen as imperative to maintaining good health.

From AOA First Look
Forbes (3/17, Rebecca Ruiz) reports that a "recent study revealed that doctors who experience a high number of difficult encounters" with "high-maintenance" patients "also reported more adverse outcomes, while another study showed that patients with weak ties to their primary physician were less likely to receive care consistent with established guidelines." These studies "are an important reminder to patients that cultivating a strong relationship with a physician is imperative to maintaining good health." By "coming to visits prepared, being honest about lifestyle choices, and following directions to take medication," patients can help foster good relationships with their physicians, particularly by achieving the "delicate balance between being respectful and assertive." They can complicate their "relationship with a physician," however, by "demanding a prescription drug they don't need," having "unrealistic expectations about their care," or placing "more trust in a TV ad or a website" than in their doctor.
Alternative-medicine providers can teach physicians something about doctor-patient relationship, physician writes. On the front of the
Washington Post (3/17, HE1) Health section, Manoj Jain, MD, writes in his column on alternative medicine that he admits that "conventional doctors" can lose sight of a patient's concerns. He argues, however, "I have no patience with alternative providers when they reach beyond their expertise, or when they allow themselves to be misunderstood by the patient. I am too aware of the potential for disaster." He asserts that alternative-medicine providers are like "good used car salesmen." Yet, he continues, "I don't mean that as an insult. On the contrary, the alternative providers offer a useful lesson in the doctor-patient relationship for conventional doctors like me. A good provider is a teacher, a coach, a friend and a fan; many alternative practitioners manage to play those roles, with the result that their patients trust them and have faith in their treatments." Moreover, "alternative providers have mastered the art of maximizing the power of the placebo," which Dr. Jain notes, has "definitely been shown to cure or reduce symptoms" for certain conditions.

Comments: The bottom line is you treat your patients the way you would want to be treated. I'm pretty hard to please. DM

Medical Care For Children With Autism Using Complementary Alternative Medicine Explored By Survey

...According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 1 in 150 children in the U.S. is affected by autism, and one-half to three-quarters of these children are being treated with complementary alternative therapies. The National Center for Complementary Alternative Medicine within the National Institutes of Health describes CAM as, "a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine." ...

Brain abnormality found in boys with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

...Researchers trying to uncover the mechanisms that cause attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and conduct disorder have found an abnormality in the brains of adolescent boys suffering from the conditions, but not where they expected to find it. ...

Data Show 1 in 278 Children Have Cerebral Palsy

...Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect a person's ability to move and keep their balance and posture as a result of an injury to parts of the brain, or as a result of a problem with development. Cerebral means having to do with the brain. Palsy means weakness or problems with using the muscles. Often the problem happens before birth or soon after being born. Cerebral palsy causes different types of disabilities in each child. A child may simply be a little clumsy or awkward, or unable to walk at all. ...

Comments: I work with children and adults with disability all day. Be careful about accepting statistics that do not seem to match what you experience. I find 1 in 278 children to be somewhat high. What's your experience? DM

Vaccine blocks virus that threatens newborns

...vaccine blocks about half of all expected new cytomegalovirus infections in young women, offering the hope of preventing serious health problems among thousands of newborns...

Mothers have key role in family life for children with technology dependencies

...Creating a family life incorporating the care needs of a child dependent on technology is a daunting task. Much of this task seems to fall upon mothers to help everyone in the family adjust. However, mothers often need help of their own to cope with the challenges of raising these children,...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


"Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD): General Assessment and Optometric Treatment Strategies" will be the topic of the 2009 Joint Conference (JCTCO) to be held June June 4-8, 2009, at Pacific University College of Optometry, Forest Grove, OR.

The goal of the Conference is to develop case management skills in the assessment and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders through an understanding of the origins and social impact of ASD, an understanding of the clinical profile of ASD; and, the provision of guidelines in case management of the ASD patient.

A case-study format will be utilized throughout the Conference that will begin with details of a specific patient followed by expert panels and discussion groups sorting out the various steps of the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment for that case.

Experts to lead the learning process include Drs. Rachel Coulter and Nancy Torgerson.

Rachael "Stacey" Coulter, OD, FAAO, FCOVD, is Chair, Optometric Science Department, Nova Southeastern University, College of Optometry, (Florida) and cofounder of the Casa Blanca Academy, a private elementary school for children with autism and related disorders. Dr. Coulter has 17 years of experience consulting for teachers and parents in the area of vision and learning and has been a principal investigator in a number of research studies funded by the National Eye Institute. Currently, she chairs the Binocular Vision, Perception and Pediatric Section of the American Academy of Optometry and is a frequent presenter in continuing education programs.

Nancy Torgerson, OD, FCOVD, is head of the Alderwood Vision Therapy Center in Lynnwood, Washington. Here a team of three optometrists, ten vision therapists, and six patient care coordinators evaluate and provide optometric services to numerous patients each week. The practice is based upon a strong referral network encompassing other health care providers representing neurology, ophthalmology, optometry, psychology, chiropractic, occupational therapy, physical therapy, auditory integration therapy, speech therapy, and education. Dr. Torgerson is past president of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, has served on the American Optometric Association Children’s/Binocular Vision Advisory Team, and has gained a national reputation for her work with Autism Spectrum Disorder patients.
Clinical panels will play an important part of the Conference, involving experts from occupational therapy, speech therapy, special education, and clinical psychology.

JCTCO 2009, co-sponsored by the Pacific University College of Optometry and the Optometric Extension Program Foundation. Housing is provided on the Pacific University campus. Special events during the conference include a reception and salmon bake, an afternoon at the Oregon coast and a farewell reception and banquet.

Conference brochures are available on For further information, contact, Sally Corngold, [email protected] 18 CE hours available.

Illinois Eye Institute Foundation Online

Illinois Eye Institute Foundation Online

Established in 2008, the Illinois Eye Institute Foundation (IEIF) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting and promoting the community outreach, charitable programs and advancement of research at the Illinois Eye Institute.