Gaze behaviour to lateral face stimuli in infants who do and do not receive an ASD diagnosis
Forrester, Gillian S.
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Donati, G., Davis, R. and Forrester, G.S. (2020) 'Gaze behaviour to lateral face stimuli in infants who do and do not receive an ASD diagnosis', Scientific Reports, 10:13185.
Cerebral lateralisation of function is a common characteristic across vertebrate species and is positively associated with fitness of the organism, in humans we hypothesise that it is associated with cognitive fitness. This investigation evaluated the early development of lateralised gaze behaviour for face stimuli in infants at high and low risk for autism from the British Autism Sibling Infant Study (BASIS). The BASIS cohort includes a low risk group and three high-risk groups who at age 3 were developing (i) typically, (ii) atypically or (iii) had received a diagnosis for ASD. Using eye-tracking data derived from a face pop-out task at 6 and 14 months of age, all non-ASD groups showed a bias for stimuli on the left at both timepoints. At 6 months the ASD group demonstrated a preference for stimuli on the right and were slower than their neurotypical counterparts to look at faces on the left. However, by 14 months these differences disappear. Longitudinal associations between lateral looking behaviour at 6 months and language and motor ability at 14 months were also found. Results suggest that infants who go on to be diagnosed with autism exhibit early differences in gaze behaviour that may be associated with subsequent cognitive outcomes.