Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 44, Issue 7, pp 1556–1564 | Cite as

Paternal Autistic Traits are Predictive of Infants Visual Attention

  • Luca Ronconi
  • Andrea Facoetti
  • Hermann Bulf
  • Laura Franchin
  • Roberta Bettoni
  • Eloisa Valenza
Original Paper


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.


Broader 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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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luca Ronconi
    • 1
  • Andrea Facoetti
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hermann Bulf
    • 3
  • Laura Franchin
    • 4
    • 6
  • Roberta Bettoni
    • 1
  • Eloisa Valenza
    • 4
    • 5
    • 7
  1. 1.Developmental and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, Department of General PsychologyUniversity of PaduaPaduaItaly
  2. 2.Developmental Neuropsychology UnitScientific Institute “E. Medea”Bosisio PariniItaly
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Milano-BicoccaMilanItaly
  4. 4.Infant Cognitive Lab, Department of Developmental and Socialization PsychologyUniversity of PaduaPaduaItaly
  5. 5.Interdepartmental Center for Cognitive Science (CISC)Università degli Studi di PadovaPaduaItaly
  6. 6.Department of Psychology and Cognitive ScienceUniversity of TrentoTrentoItaly
  7. 7.Dipartimento di Psicologia dello Sviluppo e della SocializzazioneUniversità degli Studi di PadovaPaduaItaly

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