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Kylliainen A.,University of Tampere | Kylliainen A.,Institute of Psychiatry | Jones E.J.H.,Center for Brain and Cognitive Development | Gomot M.,University of Tours | And 3 more authors.
Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders | Year: 2014

Understanding neurocognitive mechanisms in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is an essential goal of autism research. Studying young children with ASD or other neurodevelopmental conditions in demanding experimental settings, however, can pose many practical and ethical challenges. In this article, we present practical strategies that facilitate data acquisition from psychophysiological experiments involving young children with ASD. We focus on a range of common, non-invasive technologies including EEG, MEG, eye tracking as well as some common measures of physiological arousal. Topics have been divided according to the chronological order of the experimental procedure: (a) design, (b) preparing for the measurement visit, (c) conducting the experiment and (d) the data handling. A key theme in the proposed guidelines is the difficulty in balancing the procedural adaptations necessary to facilitate participation of children with ASD, and maintaining standardisation for all participating children. © 2014, The Author(s). Source

Thomas M.S.C.,Center for Brain and Cognitive Development | Baughman F.D.,Curtin University Australia
Enfance | Year: 2014

In this article, we give an overview of neuroconstructivism as a theory of cognitive development. Neuroconstructivism seeks to integrate a Piagetian perspective, that development constitutes a progressive elaboration in the complexity of mental representations via experience-dependent processes, with emerging findings on the nature of functional brain development. It is therefore premised on the view that theories of cognition should be constrained by the properties of the substrate in which cognition is implemented. We identify the origins of neuroconstructivist approaches, and summarise the core tenets of the theory with respect to typical and atypical development. We then consider three aspects of neuroconstructivism. First we address in more detail the idea that theories of cognition should be constrained by evidence from brain function. Second, we consider some of the methodological advances made to improve the analysis of developmental trajectories, particularly with respect to developmental disorders. Third, we give examples of the use of computational approaches to understand mechanisms of development, including connectionist modelling and dynamical systems theory. We finish by considering some of the challenges that lie ahead for neuroconstructivism. Source

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. Source

Hoekstra R.A.,University of Cambridge | Hoekstra R.A.,Open University Milton Keynes | Happe F.,Kings College London | Baron-Cohen S.,University of Cambridge | Ronald A.,Center for Brain and Cognitive Development
American Journal of Medical Genetics, Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics | Year: 2010

Intellectual disability is common in individuals with autism spectrum conditions. However, the strength of the association between both conditions and its relevance to finding the underlying (genetic) causes of autism is unclear. This study aimed to investigate the longitudinal association between autistic traits and intelligence in a general population twin sample and to examine the etiology of this association. Parental ratings of autistic traits and performance on intelligence tests were collected in a sample of 8,848 twin pairs when the children were 7/8, 9, and 12 years old. Phenotypic and longitudinal correlations in the sample as a whole were compared to the associations in the most extreme scoring 5% of the population. The genetic and environmental influences on the overlap between autistic traits and IQ and on the stability of this relationship over time were estimated using structural equation modeling. Autistic traits were modestly negatively correlated to intellectual ability, both in the extreme scoring groups and among the full-range scores. The correlation was stable over time and wasmainly explained by autistic trait items assessing communication difficulties. Genetic model fitting showed that autistic traits and IQ were influenced by a common set of genes and a common set of environmental influences that continuously affect these traits throughout childhood. The genetic correlation between autistic traits and IQ was only modest. These findings suggest that individual differences in autistic traits are substantially genetically independent of intellectual functioning. The relevance of these findings to future studies is discussed. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc. Source

Ronald A.,Center for Brain and Cognitive Development | Edelson L.R.,Boston University | Asherson P.,Institute of Psychiatry | Saudino K.J.,Boston University
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology | Year: 2010

Behaviors characteristic of autism and ADHD emerge in early childhood, yet research investigating their comorbidity has focused on older children. This study aimed to explore the nature of the relationship between autistic-like traits and ADHD behaviors in a community sample of 2-year-olds. Twins from the Boston University Twin Project (N=312 pairs) were assessed by their parents on autistic-like traits and ADHD behaviors using the Childhood Behavior Checklist. Phenotypic analyses showed that after controlling for general cognitive ability and socioeconomic status, autistic-like traits (total scale as well as social and nonsocial subscales) correlated positively with ADHD behaviors (r=0.23-0.26). Structural equation model-fitting analyses revealed that there were modest shared genetic influences between ADHD- and autistic traits (genetic correlation = 0.27) as well as some common environmental influences explaining their covariation. Implications for identifying shared biological pathways underlying autistic-like traits and ADHD behaviors are discussed. © Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009. Source

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