Center for Brain and Cognitive Development

London, United Kingdom

Center for Brain and Cognitive Development

London, United Kingdom
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Jones E.J.,Center for Brain and Cognitive Development | Dawson G.,Duke University | Estes A.,Center on Human Development and DisabilityUniversity of WashingtonSeattle 98195Washington
Autism Research | Year: 2017

Prospective longitudinal studies of infants with older siblings with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have indicated that differences in the neurocognitive systems underlying social attention may emerge prior to the child meeting ASD diagnostic criteria. Thus, targeting social attention with early intervention might have the potential to alter developmental trajectories for infants at high risk for ASD. Electrophysiological and habituation measures of social attention were collected at 6, 12, and 18 months in a group of high-risk infant siblings of children with ASD (N=33). Between 9 and 11 months of age, infant siblings received a parent-delivered intervention, promoting first relationships (PFR), (n=19) or on-going assessment without intervention (n=14). PFR has been previously shown to increase parental responsivity to infant social communicative cues and infant contingent responding. Compared to infants who only received assessment and monitoring, infants who received the intervention showed improvements in neurocognitive metrics of social attention, as reflected in a greater reduction in habituation times to face versus object stimuli between 6 and 12 months, maintained at 18 months; a greater increase in frontal EEG theta power between 6 and 12 months; and a more comparable P400 response to faces and objects at 12 months. The high-risk infants who received the intervention showed a pattern of responses that appeared closer to the normative responses of two groups of age-matched low-risk control participants. Though replication is necessary, these results suggest that early parent-mediated intervention has the potential to impact the brain systems underpinning social attention in infants at familial risk for ASD. © 2017 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Holmboe K.,Center for Brain and Cognitive Development | Holmboe K.,King's College London | Nemoda Z.,Semmelweis University | Fearon R.M.P.,University of Reading | And 2 more authors.
Genes, Brain and Behavior | Year: 2011

Existing studies of the effect on infant temperament of the 48 base pair variable number of tandem repeats polymorphism in exon 3 of the dopamine D4 receptor gene, DRD4 VNTR, and the serotonin transporter-linked polymorphic region, 5-HTTLPR, have provided contradictory results, and age seems to be an important factor. The present study investigated the effect of these two polymorphisms on the stability of infant temperament between 4 and 9 months of age. Furthermore, the effect of a recently discovered single nucleotide polymorphism which modulates the 5-HTTLPR (rs25531) was investigated in relation to infant temperament. The study sample consisted of 90 infants, who were assessed by parental report at the two ages under consideration using the Revised Infant Behavior Questionnaire. It was found that infants carrying the 7-repeat allele of the DRD4 VNTR had higher levels of Negative Affect. Furthermore, there was an interaction between DRD4 VNTR and 5-HTTLPR genotype such that infants with the DRD4 VNTR 7-repeat allele and the highest expressing 5-HTTLPR genotype (L AL A) had the highest level of Negative Affect. These effects were largely driven by scores on the Falling Reactivity scale. Genetic effects were stable across age. The results emphasize the need for developmental studies of genetic effects on temperament. © 2011 The Authors. Genes, Brain and Behavior © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd and International Behavioural and Neural Genetics Society.

PubMed | University of Padua, University of London and Center for Brain and Cognitive Development.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991) | Year: 2015

The ability to differentiate ones body from others is a fundamental aspect of social perception and has been shown to involve the integration of sense modalities attributable to the self. Though behavioral studies in infancy have investigated infants discrimination of body-related multisensory stimuli, whether they attribute this information as belonging to the self is still unknown. In human adults, neuroimaging studies have demonstrated the recruitment of a specific set of brain regions in response to body-related multisensory integration. To test whether the infant brain integrates this information similarly to adults, in a first functional near-infrared spectroscopy study we investigated the role of visual-proprioceptive feedback when temporal cues are manipulated by showing 5-month-old infants an online video of their own face while the infant was performing movements. To explore the role of body-related contingency further, in a second study we investigated whether cortical activation in response to self-initiated movements and external tactile stimulation was similar to that found in the first study. Our results indicate that infants specialized cortical activation in response to body-related contingencies is similar to brain activation seen in response to body awareness in adults.

PubMed | Center for Brain and Cognitive Development and University College London
Type: | Journal: Research in developmental disabilities | Year: 2016

Individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders like Williams syndrome and Down syndrome exhibit executive function impairments on experimental tasks (Lanfranchi, Jerman, Dal Pont, Alberti, & Vianello, 2010; Menghini, Addona, Costanzo, & Vicari, 2010), but the way that they use executive functioning for problem solving in everyday life has not hitherto been explored. The study aim is to understand cross-syndrome characteristics of everyday executive functioning and problem solving.Parents/carers of individuals with Williams syndrome (n=47) or Down syndrome (n=31) of a similar chronological age (m=17 years 4 months and 18 years respectively) as well as those of a group of younger typically developing children (n=34; m=8years 3 months) completed two questionnaires: the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF; Gioia, Isquith, Guy, & Kenworthy, 2000) and a novel Problem-Solving Questionnaire.The rated likelihood of reaching a solution in a problem solving situation was lower for both syndromic groups than the typical group, and lower still for the Williams syndrome group than the Down syndrome group. The proportion of group members meeting the criterion for clinical significance on the BRIEF was also highest for the Williams syndrome group. While changing response, avoiding losing focus and maintaining perseverance were important for problem-solving success in all groups, asking for help and avoiding becoming emotional were also important for the Down syndrome and Williams syndrome groups respectively. Keeping possessions in order was a relative strength amongst BRIEF scales for the Down syndrome group.Results suggest that individuals with Down syndrome tend to use compensatory strategies for problem solving (asking for help and potentially, keeping items well ordered), while for individuals with Williams syndrome, emotional reactions disrupt their problem-solving skills. This paper highlights the importance of identifying syndrome-specific problem-solving strengths and difficulties to improve effective functioning in everyday life.

Ronald A.,Center for Brain and Cognitive Development
Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences | Year: 2015

It is common, particularly in young people, to report psychotic experiences (PEs) such as feeling paranoid and having hallucinations. The questions of the role of genes and environment on PEs in the general population, and how PEs relate to schizophrenia, have not, until recently, been addressed empirically. New approaches demonstrate the heritability and role of the environment on the full range of PEs (including positive, cognitive and negative types) and show that extreme, severe forms are linked genetically to milder, less severe forms. New approaches have tested whether PEs are associated with the genome-wide significant genetic variants known to predict schizophrenia. Although at an early stage, this research will impact how we understand PEs in everyday life. © 2014 The Authors.

PubMed | Center for Brain and Cognitive Development
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Infant behavior & development | Year: 2010

Atypical attention has been proposed as a marker of the broader autism phenotype. In the present study we investigated this and the related process of inhibitory control at the youngest possible age through the study of infant siblings of children with an autism spectrum disorder (Sibs-ASD). Both attention and inhibition have been related to the frontal cortex of the brain. Nine- to ten-month-old Sibs-ASD and low-risk control infants completed the Freeze-Frame task, in which infants are encouraged to inhibit looks to peripherally presented distractors whilst looking at a central animation. The attractiveness of the central stimulus is varied in order to investigate the selectivity of infants responses. In line with previous studies, it was found that a subset of Sibs-ASD infants had difficulty disengaging attention from a central stimulus in order to orient to a peripheral stimulus. The Sibs-ASD group also showed less Selective Inhibition than controls. However, Sibs-ASD infants did demonstrate Selective Inhibitory Learning. These results provide preliminary evidence for atypical frontal cortex functioning in the infant broader autism phenotype.

PubMed | Center for Brain and Cognitive Development
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Developmental science | Year: 2011

This selective review considers findings in genetic research that have shed light on how genes operate across development. We will address the question of whether the child is father of the Man from a genetic perspective. In other words, do the same genetic influences affect the same traits across development? Using a taster menu approach and prioritizing newer findings on cognitive and behavioral traits, examples from the following genetic disciplines will be discussed: (a) developmental quantitative genetics (such as longitudinal twin studies), (b) neurodevelopmental genetic syndromes with known genetic causes (such as Williams syndrome), (c) developmental candidate gene studies (such as those that link infant and adult populations), (d) developmental genome-wide association studies (GWAS), and (e) DNA resequencing. Evidence presented here suggests that there is considerable genetic stability of cognitive and behavioral traits across development, but there is also evidence for genetic change. Quantitative genetic studies have a long history of assessing genetic continuity and change across development. It is now time for the newer, more technology-enabled fields such as GWAS and DNA resequencing also to take on board the dynamic nature of human behavior.

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