Deficits in making eye contact and limited ability to benefit from communicative and affective information provided through gaze are amongst the defining features of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in the second and third year. Considering that gaze perception (GP) constitutes one of the key components of social cognition these early deficits are likely to have a cascading effect on the development of more complex social-cognitive skills later on. Identification of specific GP skills that are impaired or spared by the pathogenic factors in ASD will be crucial for isolating the underlying mechanisms, designing diagnostic instruments for infants, as well as selecting specific skill areas for treatment.
The specific aims of Project II are to examine whether infants with ASD: (1) have impaired detection of and preference for faces with direct gaze;(2) show selective impairment in detecting gaze-related spatial contingencies;(3) have impairments in perception of gaze-related intentional actions. We will also explore a possibility of identifying subtypes within the autism spectrum with regard to GP skills as well as the relationship between GP abnormalities and cognitive, social, adaptive and communicative functioning. The experimental outcome measures will be derived from visual fixation patterns and saccadic reaction measures recorded using an eye-tracking system. Participants will include 12- to 24-month-old infants with ASD (N=60), Developmental Delays (DD) (N=60), and Typical Developing (TD) controls (N=60). Targeting 12- to 24-month-old infants will allow the examination of the emerging deficits in gaze processing in ASD at the same time as these skills develop and become fully functional in typical development and before their expression can be altered by treatment (e.g., through explicit training to attend to faces and eyes). Through Project II we are striving to discover behavioral markers of ASD in infants, which could subsequently be utilized to develop feasible screening methods for infants. Further, identification of the aspects of gaze processing that are impaired and those that are preserved in ASD will provide valuable indicators regarding the neural mechanisms that might be affected or preserved in late infancy, a period in which functional brain imaging is still very difficult to implement.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Type
Specialized Center (P50)
Project #
5P50MH081756-04
Application #
8243586
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZHD1)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
2011-04-01
Budget End
2012-03-31
Support Year
4
Fiscal Year
2011
Total Cost
$293,130
Indirect Cost
Name
Yale University
Department
Type
DUNS #
043207562
City
New Haven
State
CT
Country
United States
Zip Code
06520
Wang, Quan; Campbell, Daniel J; Macari, Suzanne L et al. (2018) Operationalizing atypical gaze in toddlers with autism spectrum disorders: a cohesion-based approach. Mol Autism 9:25
Macari, Suzanne L; Koller, Judah; Campbell, Daniel J et al. (2017) Temperamental markers in toddlers with autism spectrum disorder. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 58:819-828
Moriuchi, Jennifer M; Klin, Ami; Jones, Warren (2017) Mechanisms of Diminished Attention to Eyes in Autism. Am J Psychiatry 174:26-35
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Szatmari, Peter; Chawarska, Katarzyna; Dawson, Geraldine et al. (2016) Prospective Longitudinal Studies of Infant Siblings of Children With Autism: Lessons Learned and Future Directions. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 55:179-87
Shic, Frederick (2016) Eye Tracking as a Behavioral Biomarker for Psychiatric Conditions: The Road Ahead. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 55:267-8
Chawarska, Katarzyna; Ye, Saier; Shic, Frederick et al. (2016) Multilevel Differences in Spontaneous Social Attention in Toddlers With Autism Spectrum Disorder. Child Dev 87:543-57
Chawarska, Katarzyna; Chang, Joseph; Campbell, Daniel (2015) In Reply. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 54:958-9
Klintwall, Lars; Macari, Suzanne; Eikeseth, Svein et al. (2015) Interest level in 2-year-olds with autism spectrum disorder predicts rate of verbal, nonverbal, and adaptive skill acquisition. Autism 19:925-33
Campbell, Daniel J; Shic, Frederick; Macari, Suzanne et al. (2014) Gaze response to dyadic bids at 2 years related to outcomes at 3 years in autism spectrum disorders: a subtyping analysis. J Autism Dev Disord 44:431-42

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