Social attention in children at risk for autism: a longitudinal study

01 October 2011 → 30 September 2015
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund, Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Biological and physiological psychology
    • General psychology
    • Other psychology and cognitive sciences
Project description

Many studies illustrate atypical attention for social stimuli, e.g. faces and biological motion,
in individuals with ASD. These findings are often linked to social problems, known as a main
characteristic of ASD. The impairments in social attention found in ASD are recently
described as a consequence of an absence of an early bias for social stimuli, existing in typical
development. Therefore it is indicated to investigate early social attention in children with a
high risk to develop autism. By this exploration of the BAP (Broader Autism Phenotype) we
may find an important precursor of later impairments in processing social information and as
such, of social problems.
This project aims to enlarge our understanding of early cross-sectional differences in social
attention between siblings and a control group. We will follow up a large cohort of siblings,
starting at the age of 2 months. Eye tracking and ERP will be used to analyze their processing
of social stimuli, more especially faces, biological motion and response to their personal
name. The use of a longitudinal design will provide insights in possible alterations in the
developmental trajectories across multiple domains from the first year of life.