Entry Date:
January 26, 2016

The Early Development of Attentional Mechanisms in ASD

Principal Investigator Nancy Kanwisher

A growing body of work suggests that multi-level attentional factors may contribute to both the social and the non-social symptoms of ASD; fundamental differences in the weighting and prioritization of environmental information, especially during development, influences the way individuals with ASD process visual scenes, learn language, approach novel surroundings, and navigate social situations. In these proposed studies, we will test basic attentional mechanisms in 1.5-3-year-old toddlers with and without ASD (the earliest age when the condition can be reliably diagnosed) using both behavioral (gaze direction) and physiological (pupil dilation) measures. We propose that differences in early attentional engagement at the task- (but not stimulus-) level are a core factor of ASD etiology.