The online version of this article (https://doi.org/10.1186/s11689-017-9219-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Difficulties with executive functioning (EF) are common in individuals with a range of developmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Interventions that target underlying mechanisms of EF early in development could be broadly beneficial, but require infant markers of such mechanisms in order to be feasible. Prospective studies of infants at high familial risk (HR) for ASD have revealed a surprising tendency for HR toddlers to show longer epochs of attention to faces than low-risk (LR) controls. In typical development, decreases in look durations towards the end of the first year of life are driven by the development of executive attention—a foundational component of EF. Here, we test the hypothesis that prolonged attention to visual stimuli (including faces) in HR toddlers reflects early differences in the development of executive attention.
In a longitudinal prospective study, we used eye-tracking to record HR and LR infants’ looking behaviour to social and non-social visual stimuli at ages 9 and 15 months. At age 3 years, we assessed children with a battery of clinical research measures and collected parental report of effortful control (EC)—a temperament trait closely associated with EF and similarly contingent on executive attention.
Consistent with previous studies, we found an attenuated reduction in peak look durations to faces between 9 and 15 months for the HR group compared with the LR group, and lower EC amongst the HR-ASD group. In line with our hypothesis, change in peak look duration to faces between 9 and 15 months was negatively associated with EC at age 3.
We suggest that for HR toddlers, disruption to the early development of executive attention results in an attenuated reduction in looking time to faces. Effects may be more apparent for faces due to early biases to orient towards them; further, attention difficulties may interact with earlier emerging differences in social information processing. Our finding that prolonged attention to faces may be an early indicator of disruption to the executive attention system is of potential value in screening for infants at risk for later EF difficulties and for evaluation of intervention outcomes.
Ozonoff S, Young GS, Carter A, Messinger D, Yirmiya N, Zwaigenbaum L, Bryson S, Carver LJ, Constantino JN, Dobkins K, et al. Recurrence risk for autism spectrum disorders: a baby siblings research consortium study. Pediatrics. 2011;128:e1–8. CrossRef
Messinger D, Young GS, Ozonoff S, Dobkins K, Carter A, Zwaigenbaum L, Landa RJ, Charman T, Stone WL, Constantino JN, et al. Beyond autism: a baby siblings research consortium study of high-risk children at three years of age. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2013;52:300–8. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentral
Nyden A, Hagberg B, Gousse V, Rastam MA. Cognitive endophenotype of autism in families with multiple incidence. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 2011;5:191–200. CrossRef
Macari SL, Koller J, Campbell DJ, Chawarska K. Temperamental markers in toddlers with autism spectrum disorder. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2017;
Hughes C, Plumet MH, Leboyer M. Towards a cognitive phenotype for autism: increased prevalence of executive dysfunction and superior spatial span amongst siblings of children with autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines. 1999;40:705–18. CrossRef
Piven J, Palmer P. Cognitive deficits in parents from multiple-incidence autism families. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines. 1997;38:1011–21. CrossRef
Pellicano E, Kenny L, Brede J, Klaric E, Lichwa H, McMillin R. Executive function predicts school readiness in autistic and typical preschool children. Cogn Dev. 2017:1–13.
Rommelse NNJ, Franke B, Geurts HM, Hartman CA, Buitelaar JK. Shared heritability of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorder. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 2010;19:281–95. CrossRef
Visser JC, Rommelse NJ, Greven CU, Buitelaar JK. Autism spectrum disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in early childhood: a review of unique and shared characteristics and developmental antecedents. Neuroscience and Biobehavioural Reviews. 2016;65:229–63. CrossRef
Wass SV, Scerif G, Johnson MH. Training attentional control and working memory—is younger, better? Dev Rev. 2012;32:360–87. CrossRef
Hendry A, Jones EJH, Charman T. Executive function in the first three years of life: precursors, predictors and patterns. Dev Rev. 2016;42:1–33. CrossRef
Rothbart MK, Sheese BE, Posner MI. Executive attention and effortful control. Linking temperament, brain networks, and genes. Child Dev Perspect. 2007;1:2–7. CrossRef
Conejero A, Rueda MR. Early development of executive attention. Journal of Child & Adolescent Behavior. 2017;5
Colombo J, Shaddy DJ, Richman WA, Maikranz JM, Blaga OM. The developmental course of habituation in infancy and preschool outcome. Infancy. 2004;5:1–38. CrossRef
Kannass KN, Oakes LM, Shaddy DJ. A longitudinal investigation of the development of attention and distractibility. J Cogn Dev. 2006;7:381–409. CrossRef
Colombo J, Mitchell DW. Individual and developmental differences in infant visual attention: fixation time and information processing. In: Colombo J, Fagen JW, editors. Individual differences in infancy: reliability, stability, and prediction. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum; 1990. p. 193–227.
Wass SV. Comparing methods for measuring peak look duration: are individual differences observed on screen-based tasks also found in more ecologically valid contexts? Infant Behavior & Development. 2014;37:315–25. CrossRef
Wass SV, Jones EJH, Gliga T, Smith TJ, Charman T, Johnson MH, BASIS Team. Shorter spontaneous fixation durations in infants with later emerging autism. Sci Rep. 2015;5
Lord C, DiLavore PC, Risi S, Gotham K, Bishop S. Autism diagnostic observation schedule, second edition: ADOS-2. Torrance: western. Psychol Serv. 2012;
Rutter M, Le Couteur A, Lord C. Autism diagnostic interview-revised. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychol Serv; 2003. 29:30.
Rutter M, Lord C. Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ). Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services; 2003.
Sparrow SS, Cicchetti DV, Balla DA. Vineland adaptive behavior scales. 2nd ed. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service; 2005.
Mullen EM. Mullen scales of early learning (AGS ed). Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service Inc.; 1995.
Americal Psychological Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC; 2013. CrossRef
Constantino JN. Social responsiveness scale - 2 (SRS-2). Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services; 2012.
Achenbach TM, Rescorla LA. Manual for the ASEBA School-Age Forms & Profiles. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Research Center for Children, Youth, & Families; 2001.
Sacrey LAR, Zwaigenbaum L, Szatmari P, Bryson S, Georgiades S, Brian J, Smith IM, Vaillancourt T, Garon N, Roncadin C, Elsabbagh M. Brief report: characteristics of preschool children with ASD vary by ascertainment. J Autism Dev Disord. 2017:1–9.
Gerardi-Caulton G. Sensitivity to spatial conflict and the development of self-regulation in children 24-36 months of age. Dev Sci. 2000;3:397–404. CrossRef
Gliga T, Elsabbagh M, Andravizou A, Johnson M. Faces attract infants’ attention in complex displays. Infancy. 2009;14:550–62. CrossRef
Green J, Charman T, Pickles A, Wan MW, Elsabbagh M, Slonims V, Taylor C, McNally J, Booth R, Gliga T, et al. Parent-mediated intervention versus no intervention for infants at high risk of autism: a parallel, single-blind, randomised trial. Lancet Psychiatry. 2015;2:133–40. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentral
Green J, Pickles A, Pasco G, Bedford R, Wan MW, Elsabbagh M, Slonims V, Gliga T, Jones EJH, Cheung CHM, Charman T, Johnson MH, Team BASIS. Randomised trial of a parent-mediated intervention for infants at high risk for autism: longitudinal outcomes to age 3 years. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2017;
Wass S, Forssman L, Leppänen J. Robustness and precision: how data quality may influence key dependent variables in infant eye-tracker analyses. Infancy. 2014;19:1–34. CrossRef
- Developmental change in look durations predicts later effortful control in toddlers at familial risk for ASD
Emily J. H. Jones
Mark H. Johnson
the BASIS Team
- BioMed Central
Neu im Fachgebiet Psychiatrie
Meistgelesene Bücher aus dem Fachgebiet
e.Med Kampagnen-Visual, Mail Icon II