Project information

Social impairment in fragile X syndrome

Funded by the ESRC and supported by the Fragile X Society from 2010 – 2014


Individuals with fragile X syndrome (FXS) are often reported to display difficulties in social interaction. The social impairment in FXS often incorporates eye gaze avoidance, social anxiety and avoidance to initiate social interactions. Processing social cues is crucial for successful social interaction. However, the ways in which individuals with FXS process such cues has not yet been investigated. The processing of social information is just one of the factors that might influence social impairment. If such factors can be modified through intervention, this might impact the social difficulties experienced by individuals with FXS.


We aim to investigate the precise nature of the social difficulties in individuals with FXS. Furthermore, we aim to investigate how individuals with FXS process social cues by measuring eye gaze patterns during presentation of different stimuli.


In order to investigate the way in which individuals process social cues, participants are presented with different pictures on a computer screen. Using eye tracking equipment, participant’s eye movements are recorded whilst they look at these pictures. We are currently testing individuals with FXS who are aged between 7 and 40 and can sit still for approximately 10 minutes at a time. Ideally, participants will have no eye conditions although glasses and contact lenses are fine.

Progress to date

We have currently tested 7 individuals with FXS and are recruiting more participants for this project.

Contact details

Hayley MaceHayley Mace
Tel: 0121 414 2855