A Caltech Library Service

White Matter Microstructure and Atypical Visual Orienting in 7-Month-Olds at Risk for Autism

Elison, Jed T. and Paterson, Sarah J. and Wolff, Jason J. and Reznick, J. Steven and Sasson, Noah J. and Gu, Hongbin and Botteron, Kelly N. and Dager, Stephen R. and Estes, Annette M. and Evans, Alan C. and Gerig, Guido and Hazlett, Heather C. and Schultz, Robert T. and Styner, Martin and Zwaigenbaum, Lonnie and Piven, Joseph (2013) White Matter Microstructure and Atypical Visual Orienting in 7-Month-Olds at Risk for Autism. American Journal of Psychiatry, 170 (8). pp. 899-908. ISSN 0002-953X.

Full text is not posted in this repository. Consult Related URLs below.

Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Objective: The authors sought to determine whether specific patterns of oculomotor functioning and visual orienting characterize 7-month-old infants who later meet criteria for an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and to identify the neural correlates of these behaviors. Method: Data were collected from 97 infants, of whom 16 were high-familialrisk infants later classified as having an ASD, 40 were high-familial-risk infants who did not later meet ASD criteria (high-risk negative), and 41 were lowrisk infants. All infants underwent an eyetracking task at a mean age of 7 months and a clinical assessment at a mean age of 25 months. Diffusion-weighted imaging data were acquired for 84 of the infants at 7 months. Primary outcome measures included average saccadic reaction time in a visually guided saccade procedure and radial diffusivity (an index of white matter organization) in fiber tracts that included corticospinal pathways and the splenium and genu of the corpus callosum. Results: Visual orienting latencies were longer in 7-month-old infants who expressed ASD symptoms at 25 months compared with both high-risk negative infants and low-risk infants. Visual orienting latencies were uniquely associated with the microstructural organization of the splenium of the corpus callosum in low-risk infants, but this association was not apparent in infants later classified as having an ASD. Conclusions: Flexiblyandefficientlyorienting to salient information in the environment is critical for subsequent cognitive and social-cognitive development. Atypical visual orienting may represent an early prodromal feature of an ASD, and abnormal functional specialization of posterior cortical circuits directly informs a novel model of ASD pathogenesis.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription DOIArticle
Additional Information:© 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association. Presented in part at the International Meeting for Autism Research, Toronto, May 17–19, 2012. Received Sept. 2, 2012; revisions received Nov. 9 and Dec. 11, 2012; accepted Dec. 17, 2012 (doi: 10.1176/appi. ajp.2012.12091150). From the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities and the Departments of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Computer Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena; Center for Autism Research, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas; Department of Psychiatry, Washington University, St. Louis; Departments of Radiology and Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle; Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montreal; Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute, University of Utah, Salt Lake City; Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta, Edmonton. Address correspondence to Dr. Elison ( or Dr. Piven ( Dr. Evans is cofounder of and holds equity in Biospective, Inc.; he has also received consulting fees from Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer. Dr. Hazlett has received travel support from Autism Speaks. All other authors report no financial relationships with commercial interests. Supported by grants awarded to Dr. Piven from NIH/National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD) (Autism Center of Excellence, R01 HD055741 and HD055741-S1; Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center, P30 HD03110 and T32 HD40127), Autism Speaks, and the Simons Foundation. Dr. Elison was supported by a National Research Service Award (5-T32-HD007376) from NICHD, and aspects of this work contributed to his doctoral dissertation. Further support was provided by the National Alliance for Medical Image Computing, funded by NIH through grant U54 EB005149. The Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS) Network is an NIH-funded Autism Center of Excellence project and consists of a consortium of seven universities in the United States and Canada. Clinical sites: University of North Carolina: J. Piven (IBIS Network principal investigator), H.C. Hazlett, and J.C. Chappell; University of Washington: S. Dager, A. Estes, and D. Shaw; Washington University: K. Botteron, R. McKinstry, J. Constantino, and J. Pruett; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: R. Schultz and S. Paterson; University of Alberta: L. Zwaigenbaum; Data Coordinating Center: Montreal Neurological Institute: A.C. Evans, D.L. Collins, G.B. Pike, P. Kostopolous, and S. Das; Image Processing Core: University of Utah: G. Gerig; University of North Carolina: M. Styner; Statistical Analysis Core: University of North Carolina: H. Gu; Genetics Analysis Core: University of North Carolina: P. Sullivan and F. Wright. The authors thank the IBIS children and families for their ongoing participation in this longitudinal study. They also thank Ryan Scotton, Rachel G. Smith, Samir Das, and Penelope Kostopoulos for their efforts and Matt Mosconi, Keize Izuma, and Ralph Adolphs for their comments on the manuscript.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NIH/National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD)R01 HD055741
NIH/National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD)HD055741-S1
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research CenterP30 HD03110
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research CenterT32 HD4012
Simons FoundationUNSPECIFIED
NICHD National Research Service Award5-T32-HD00737
National Alliance for Medical Image ComputingUNSPECIFIED
NIHU54 EB005149
Johnson & JohnsonUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:8
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130917-131308907
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:41367
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:17 Sep 2013 20:30
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 05:48

Repository Staff Only: item control page