Hardiansyah I, Nyström P, Taylor MJ, Bölte S, Ronald A, Falck-Ytter T.
Commun Biol. 2023 Mar 28;6(1):339. doi: 10.1038/s42003-023-04707-3.
Autism is a heritable and common neurodevelopmental condition, with behavioural symptoms typically emerging around age 2 to 3 years. Differences in basic perceptual processes have been documented in autistic children and adults. Specifically, data from many experiments suggest links between autism and alterations in global visual motion processing (i.e., when individual motion information is integrated to perceive an overall coherent pattern). Yet, no study has investigated whether a distinctive organization of global motion processing precede the emergence of autistic symptoms in early childhood. Here, using a validated infant electroencephalography (EEG) experimental paradigm, we first establish the normative activation profiles for global form, global motion, local form, and local motion in the visual cortex based on data from two samples of 5-month-old infants (total n = 473). Further, in a sample of 5-month-olds at elevated likelihood of autism (n = 52), we show that a different topographical organization of global motion processing is associated with autistic symptoms in toddlerhood. These findings advance the understanding of neural organization of infants’ basic visual processing, and its role in the development of autism.