Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Early autism detection: Speech disrupts facial attention in 6-month-old infants who later develop autism

Date:
February 4, 2014
Source:
Elsevier
Summary:
From birth, infants naturally show a preference for human contact and interaction, including faces and voices. These basic predispositions to social stimuli are altered in individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). A new study now reports that 6-month-old infants later diagnosed with autism divert their gaze from facial features when that face is speaking.

Infants who later developed an autism spectrum disorder not only looked at all faces less than other infants, but also, when shown a face that was speaking, looked away from key facial features such as the eyes and mouth.
Credit: Yoram Astrakhan / Fotolia

From birth, infants naturally show a preference for human contact and interaction, including faces and voices. These basic predispositions to social stimuli are altered in individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

A new study published in Biological Psychiatry this week, from researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine, now reports that 6-month-old infants later diagnosed with autism divert their gaze from facial features when that face is speaking.

One of the best methods to examine autism in very young infants is the use of eye-tracking. This technology uses advanced video monitoring and special software that tracks and 'maps' exactly where the eyes were focused and for how long.

Dr. Frederick Shic and his colleagues used this method to examine how 6-month-old infants looked at videos of still, smiling, and speaking faces. The infants were later assessed at 3 years of age and divided into groups based on based on their diagnosis of ASD, other developmental delays, or typical development.

Infants who later developed ASD not only looked at all faces less than other infants, but also, when shown a face that was speaking, looked away from key facial features such as the eyes and mouth.

"These results suggest that the presence of speech disrupts typical attentional processing of faces in those infants later diagnosed with ASD," said Shic. "This is the first study to isolate an atypical response to speech as a specific characteristic in the first half year after birth that is associated with later emerging ASD."

These findings indicate that infants who later develop ASD have difficulty maintaining attention to relevant social information as early as 6 months of age, a phenomenon that could reduce the quality of their social and communicative exchanges with others and, consequently, the trajectory of their social development.

Autism typically can't be diagnosed until at least two years of age, but this and other studies confirm that abnormalities in behavior and attention can be detected as early as 6 months of age.

"It seems clear that brain changes related to autism appear much earlier than we traditionally diagnose this disorder," commented Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry. "This study elegantly illustrates that autism-related disturbances in social relatedness are present very early in life, shaping one's most fundamental social contacts."

These affected infants may be experiencing an altered social experience at a critical developmental point. The hope is that this and further research can help clarify how and when the developmental trajectory is altered in children who develop autism and, potentially, develop targeted interventions that could normalize their developmental processes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Elsevier. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Frederick Shic, Suzanne Macari, Katarzyna Chawarska. Speech Disturbs Face Scanning in 6-Month-Old Infants Who Develop Autism Spectrum Disorder. Biological Psychiatry, 2014; 75 (3): 231 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2013.07.009

Cite This Page:

Elsevier. "Early autism detection: Speech disrupts facial attention in 6-month-old infants who later develop autism." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140204073829.htm>.
Elsevier. (2014, February 4). Early autism detection: Speech disrupts facial attention in 6-month-old infants who later develop autism. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140204073829.htm
Elsevier. "Early autism detection: Speech disrupts facial attention in 6-month-old infants who later develop autism." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140204073829.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping School Violence

Stopping School Violence

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A trauma doctor steps out of the hospital and into the classroom to teach kids how to calmly solve conflicts, avoiding a trip to the ER. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A tiny cyst in the brain that can cause debilitating symptoms like chronic headaches and insomnia, and the doctor who performs the delicate surgery to remove them. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Burning Away Brain Tumors

Burning Away Brain Tumors

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Doctors are 'cooking' brain tumors. Hear how this new laser-heat procedure cuts down on recovery time. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins