Document Type

Senior Thesis

Publication Date

Spring 5-2022


Visual processing in humans is done by integrating and updating multiple streams of global and local sensory input. When this is not done smoothly, it becomes difficult to see the “big picture”, which has been found to have implications on emotion recognition, social skills, and conversation skills in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other learning disabilities. Previous research in this field has aimed to direct ASD patients toward normative processing of the global features by developing and evaluating a filter which is intended to decrease local interference, or the prioritization of local details. This work attempts to utilize the filter to, not only shift eye gaze toward normative fixation areas or “hotspots”, but also to maintain focus on those areas. To operationalize these measures, location and duration of participants’ fixations were recorded during a free viewing task. An algorithm was then implemented that would isolate these areas and calculate whether a participant’s fixation was within those bounds. Statistical analysis revealed that, overall, participants did not have a significantly higher likelihood of hitting a hotspot in a filtered image as opposed to a raw one. In addition, participants' hit duration was not significantly different when viewing a filtered image as opposed to a raw one. However, there were some clinically significant findings among individual participants that warrant further investigation. Building on this work, we plan to conduct research that will help to understand how the spatial frequency in raw and filtered images affects the ability of the filter to redirect global processing. These findings will eventually be used to improve the image filter and conduct further research in this field.


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