Differences in Neural Correlates of Speech Perception in 3 Month Olds at High and Low Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder
In this study, we investigated neural precursors of language acquisition as potential endophenotypes of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in 3-month-old infants at high and low familial ASD risk. Infants were imaged using functional near-infrared spectroscopy while they listened to auditory stimuli containing syllable repetitions; their neural responses were analyzed over left and right temporal regions. While female low risk infants showed initial neural activation that decreased over exposure to repetition-based stimuli, potentially indicating a habituation response to repetition in speech, female high risk infants showed no changes in neural activity over exposure. This finding may indicate a potential neural endophenotype of language development or ASD specific to females at risk for the disorder.