The purpose of this KO2 proposal is to provide me with time and resources for a combination of career development and research activities designed to enhance my ability to advance developmental science in the area of early perception and attention. My overarching aim is to make basic research in infant and child development more easily translated to applications such as atypical development in disorders such as autism and to natural learning contexts such as home or school. I have created a plan for interweaving my knowledge, training, and basic research on the typical development of attention and intersensory perception with new knowledge, training, and research on atypical attention and intersensory perception in autism, in a way that will result in significant cross-fertilization and value added for each program. This synergistic effect will be accomplished by pursuing career development activities such as directed readings, traveling to conferences and research labs, creating a collaborative research network, learning advanced statistical methods, writing theory and concept papers, and training and mentoring the next generation of scientists, as well as by directly interweaving three research directions designed a priori to inform one another. These research directions converge to focus on how and under what conditions various aspects of social events (a primary basis for cognitive, perceptual, emotional, and communicative development) become salient, attended, and perceived and how this changes across development. The proposed program bridges gaps between research conducted on infants and children, unimodal and multimodal perception, social and nonsocial event perception, and typical and atypical development. The first research direction (my currently funded RO1) assesses the typical development of intersensory perception of social events in infants and young children with a focus on the role of intersensory redundancy in guiding and organizing the development of attention and perception. It uses a combination of infant controlled habituation, reaction time, visual preference, and eye tracking measures. A second research direction (funded by Autism Speaks) assesses attention and intersensory perception of social and nonsocial events in children with autism, typical development, and developmental delay. We have developed a new protocol assessing four basic building blocks of attention (disengagement, orienting, maintenance, intersensory processing) in a single test to clearly characterize attention skills and impairments in autism. Children with autism show a social orienting impairment, with reduced attention to faces, people, and speech. However, we know little about the typical nature, basis and developmental course of attention and perception of social events. In a third (new) research direction, I thus propose to provide the first systematic data base on the typical development of attention to faces, voices, and audiovisual speech, across infancy and early childhood. These studies will bridge critical gaps between knowledge of typical and atypical development and forge direct links between my two current research programs by using common methods, measures, and stimuli across age, from 2- to 36- months. This will provide a comprehensive developmental picture of typical development, serving as a basis for theory in developmental science and providing a developmental context and baseline for evaluating atypical development across infancy and early childhood. If the KO2 proposal is funded, this would allow me the time to pursue the newly proposed research direction and the career development activities designed to integrate my ongoing research program on typical development with that of atypical development. During the next few years, I am uniquely poised to accomplish this goal given the unique and fortunate circumstances of having a funded RO1 on typical development along with a small grant on autism, and trained research teams in place for each program, as well as access to a highly skilled and talented group of collaborators. The additional time afforded by the KO2 award would make it possible to take this integration to the next level through research, training, scholarship, collaboration and mentoring.

Public Health Relevance

This research will reveal new information about the nature, basis and development of attention to social and nonsocial events in infants and children. Findings will provide a wealth of critical information about atypical attention in young children with autism and about the typical development of attention between 2- and 36-months of age, at a level of detail that is novel and necessary for the early identification of atypical patterns of development, including social attention deficits characteristic of autism. Findings are designed to be easily translated to real world settings and can serve as a basis for interventions for developmental delays.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research (K02)
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Study Section
Pediatrics Subcommittee (CHHD)
Program Officer
Freund, Lisa S
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Florida International University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Bahrick, Lorraine E; Todd, James Torrence; Soska, Kasey C (2018) The Multisensory Attention Assessment Protocol (MAAP): Characterizing individual differences in multisensory attention skills in infants and children and relations with language and cognition. Dev Psychol 54:2207-2225
Bahrick, Lorraine E; Soska, Kasey C; Todd, James Torrence (2018) Assessing individual differences in the speed and accuracy of intersensory processing in young children: The intersensory processing efficiency protocol. Dev Psychol 54:2226-2239
Messinger, Daniel S; Mattson, Whitney I; Todd, James Torrence et al. (2017) Temporal Dependency and the Structure of Early Looking. PLoS One 12:e0169458
Lickliter, Robert; Bahrick, Lorraine E; Vaillant-Mekras, Jimena (2017) The intersensory redundancy hypothesis: Extending the principle of unimodal facilitation to prenatal development. Dev Psychobiol 59:910-915
Beebe, Beatrice; Messinger, Daniel; Bahrick, Lorraine E et al. (2016) A systems view of mother-infant face-to-face communication. Dev Psychol 52:556-71
Bahrick, Lorraine E; Todd, James Torrence; Castellanos, Irina et al. (2016) Enhanced attention to speaking faces versus other event types emerges gradually across infancy. Dev Psychol 52:1705-1720
Bahrick, Lorraine E; Lickliter, Robert; Castellanos, Irina et al. (2015) Intrasensory Redundancy Facilitates Infant Detection of Tempo: Extending Predictions of the Intersensory Redundancy Hypothesis. Infancy 20:377-404
Gogate, Lakshmi; Maganti, Madhavilatha; Bahrick, Lorraine E (2015) Cross-cultural evidence for multimodal motherese: Asian Indian mothers' adaptive use of synchronous words and gestures. J Exp Child Psychol 129:110-26
Reynolds, Greg D; Bahrick, Lorraine E; Lickliter, Robert et al. (2014) Neural correlates of intersensory processing in 5-month-old infants. Dev Psychobiol 56:355-72
Bahrick, Lorraine E; Lickliter, Robert (2014) Learning to Attend Selectively: The Dual Role of Intersensory Redundancy. Curr Dir Psychol Sci 23:414-420

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