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    Development of the pupillary light reflex from 9- to 24-months in infants with elevated familial and genetic liability to autism

    Fish, Laurel and Nyström, P. and Gliga, Teodora and Gui, Anna and Begum Ali, Jannath and Mason, Luke and Garg, S. and Green, Jonathan and Johnson, Mark H. and Charman, T. and Harrison, Rebecca and Meaburn, Emma and Falck-Ytter, t. and Jones, Emily J.H. (2021) Development of the pupillary light reflex from 9- to 24-months in infants with elevated familial and genetic liability to autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 62 (11), ISSN 0021-9630.

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    Background: Although autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is heritable, the mechanisms through which genes contribute to symptom emergence remain unclear. Investigating candidate intermediate phenotypes such as the pupillary light reflex (PLR) prospectively from early in development could bridge genotype and behavioural phenotype. Methods: Using eye tracking, we longitudinally measured the PLR at 9, 14 and 24 months in a sample of infants (N = 264) enriched for a family history of ASD; 27 infants received an ASD diagnosis at 3 years. We examined the 9- to 24-month developmental trajectories of PLR constriction latency (onset; ms) and amplitude (%) and explored their relation to categorical 3-year ASD outcome, polygenic liability for ASD and dimensional 3-year social affect (SA) and repetitive/restrictive behaviour (RRB) traits. Polygenic scores for ASD (PGS ASD) were calculated for 190 infants. Results: While infants showed a decrease in latency between 9 and 14 months, higher PGS ASD was associated with a smaller decrease in latency in the first year (β = −.16, 95% CI = −0.31, −0.002); infants with later ASD showed a significantly steeper decrease in latency (a putative ‘catch-up’) between 14 and 24 months relative to those with other outcomes (typical: β =.54, 95% CI = 0.08, 0.99; other: β =.53, 95% CI = 0.02, 1.04). Latency development did not associate with later dimensional variation in ASD-related traits. In contrast, change in amplitude was not related to categorical ASD or genetics, but decreasing 9- to 14-month amplitude was associated with higher SA (β =.08, 95% CI = 0.01, 0.14) and RRB (β =.05, 95% CI = 0.004, 0.11) traits. Conclusions: These findings corroborate PLR development as possible intermediate phenotypes being linked to both genetic liability and phenotypic outcomes. Future work should incorporate alternative measures (e.g. functionally informed structural and genetic measures) to test whether distinct neural mechanisms underpin PLR alterations.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Autism spectrum disorder, neurodevelopment, infancy, pupillary light reflex
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Brain and Cognitive Development, Centre for (CBCD)
    Depositing User: Emma Meaburn
    Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2021 15:29
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:12


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