Broader Autism Phenotype (Parents and siblings)

We have found that parents and siblings of children with autism or Asperger Syndrome are more likely to have excellent attention to detail, higher scores on the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ), and show different patterns of brain activity whilst performing attentional tests and empathy tests. We are currently looking at other measures to characterize the broader phenotype in parents and siblings, such as the Empathy Quotient (EQ) and Systemizing Quotient (SQ), and how these inter-relate. We also carried out one of the earliest 'baby sibs' studies to predict which toddlers might go on to receive a diagnosis on the autistic spectrum, by virtue of having an older sibling with a diagnosis. This used the Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (CHAT) at 18 months of age. Video analysis of interactions among baby sibs also confirmed atypical interactional synchrony as young as 4 months of age. The ARC is a collaborator on the Baby Sibs UK Network. Other studies from the ARC have found adult first degree relatives of people on the autistic spectrum are over-represented among systemizing occupations such as engineering, mathematics, and computer science. Our sibling studies are now extending to the neural level using MRI and DTI.


Selected References

668: T Gliga, R Bedford, T Charman, M Johnson,The BASIS Team (2015)
Enhanced Visual Search in Infancy Predicts Emerging Autism Symptoms
Current Biology 25:1727–1730

646: I Gammer, R Bedford, M Elsabbagh, H Garwood, G Pasco, L Tucker, A Volein, M Johnson, T Charman, The BASIS Team (2015)
Behavioural markers for autism in infancy: Scores on the Autism Observational Scale for Infants in a prospective study of at-risk siblings
Infant Behavior & Development 38:107–115

617: R Holt, L Chura, M-C Lai, J Suckling, E von dem Hagen, A Calder, E Bullmore, S Baron-Cohen, M Spencer (2014)
‘Reading the Mind in the Eyes’: an fMRI study of adolescents with autism and their siblings
Psychological Medicine 44:3215-3227

616: C de Klerk, T Gliga, A Charman, M Johnson and the BASIS team (2014)
Face engagement during infancy predicts later face recognition ability in younger siblings of children with autism
Developmental Science 17(4):596–611

565: R Grove, A Baillie, C Allison, S Baron-Cohen, R Hoekstra (2013)
Empathizing, Systemizing, and Autistic Traits: Latent Structure in Individuals With Autism, Their Parents, and General Population Controls
Journal of Abnormal Psychology 122(2):600-609

457: M. Belmonte, M. Gomot, S. Baron-Cohen (2010)
Visual attention in autism families: 'unaffected' sibs share atypical frontal activation
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 51(3):259-276

376: S. Baron-Cohen, S. Wheelwright, A. Burtenshaw and E. Hobson (2007)
Mathematical Talent is Linked to Autism
Human Nature 18:125-131

337: S. Baron-Cohen, H. Ring, X. Chitnis, S. Wheelwright, L. Gregory, S. Williams, M. Brammer and E. Bullmore (2006)
fMRI of parents of children with Asperger Syndrome: a pilot study
Brain and Cognition 61:122-130

329: N. Yirmiya, I. Gamiel, T. Pilowsky, R. Feldman, M. Sigman and S. Baron- Cohen (2006)
The development of siblings of children with autism at 4 and 14 months of age: social engagement, communication and cognition.
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 47(5):511-523

101: S. Baron-Cohen and J. Hammer (1997)
Parents of Children with Asperger Syndrome: What is the Cognitive Phenotype?
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 9(4):548-554

98: S. Baron-Cohen, S. Wheelwright, C. Stott, P. Bolton and I. Goodyer (1997)
Is there a link between engineering and autism?
Autism 1(1):101-109

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