Social and attention factors during infancy and the later emergence of autism characteristics

Mayada Elsabbagh, Karla Holmboe, Teodora Gliga, Evelyne Mercure, Kristelle Hudry, Tony Charman, Simon Baron-Cohen, Patrick Bolton, Mark H. Johnson, BASIS Team, Rachael Bedford

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section

40 Citations (SciVal)


Characteristic features of autism include atypical social perception and social-communication skills, and atypical visual attention, alongside rigid and repetitive thinking and behavior. Debate has focused on whether the later emergence of atypical social skills is a consequence of attention problems early in life, or, conversely, whether early social deficits have knock-on consequences for the later development of attention skills. We investigated this question based on evidence from infants at familial risk for a later diagnosis of autism by virtue of being younger siblings of children with a diagnosis. Around 9 months, at-risk siblings differed as a group from controls, both in measures of social perception and inhibitory control. We present preliminary data from an ongoing longitudinal research program, suggesting clear associations between some of these infant measures and autism-related characteristics at 3 years. We discuss the findings in terms of the emergent nature of autism as a result of complex developmental interactions among brain networks.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGene Expression to Neurobiology and Behavior
EditorsOliver Braddick, Janette Atkinson, Giorgio M. Innocenti
PublisherElsevier Science Publishers B.V.
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9780444538840
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Publication series

NameProgress in Brain Research
PublisherElsevier Science Publishers B.V.


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