Paternal Autistic Traits are Predictive of Infants Visual Attention
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Since subthreshold autistic social impairments aggregate in family members, and since attentional dysfunctions appear to be one of the earliest cognitive markers of children with autism, we investigated in the general population the relationship between infants’ attentional functioning and the autistic traits measured in their parents. Orienting and alerting attention systems were measured in 8-month-old infants using a spatial cueing paradigm. Results showed that only paternal autistic traits were linked to their children’s: (1) attentional disengagement; (2) rapid attentional orienting and (3) alerting. Our findings suggest that an early dysfunction of orienting and alerting systems might alter the developmental trajectory of future ability in social cognition and communication.
KeywordsBroader autism phenotype Spatial attention Temporal attention Frontoparietal network Right temporoparietal junction Social brain development
This research project was supported by two grants: one from Università di Padova Progetti di Ricerca di Ateneo 2011 (code CPDA113109/11) and one from Progetti di Eccellenza CARIPARO (rep. no. 1873/2012). The authors are deeply indebted to the infants who took part in the study and to their parents. We also thank Caterina Masiero for her technical help.
Conflict of interest
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