Objectives: We therefore predicted that they should be less susceptible to magic tricks, such as the ball illusion, in which the magician’s social cues of head movement and eye gaze play a crucial role in misdirecting people’s attention and expectations.
Methods: Participants were 15 high functioning ASD young adults 17-22 years and 16 age and IQ-matched comparison individuals. A magician demonstrated the trick in a videotaped presentation. Participants indicate where they had last seen the ball. Eyemovements were recorded. Results: Surprisingly, individuals with ASD were more susceptible to the illusion than the comparison group. Eye-tracking data indicated that subtle temporal delays in allocating attention might explain their heightened susceptibility. Additionally, although ASD individuals showed typical patterns of looking to the magician’s face and eyes, they were slower to launch their first saccade to the face, and had difficulty in fixating the fast moving observable ball when it was thrown for real.
Conclusions: Considered together, the results indicate difficulties in the rapid allocation of attention towards both people and moving objects.