Positive Affect Processing and Joint Attention in Infants at High Risk for Autism: An Exploratory Study

Alexandra P. Key, Lisa V. Ibanez, Heather A. Henderson, Zachary Warren, Daniel S Messinger, Wendy L. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Few behavioral indices of risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are present before 12 months, and potential biomarkers remain largely unexamined. This prospective study of infant siblings of children with ASD (n = 16) and low-risk comparison infants (n = 15) examined group differences in event-related potentials (ERPs) indexing processing of facial positive affect (N290/P400, Nc) at 9 months and their relation to joint attention at 15 months. Group differences were most pronounced for subtle facial expressions, in that the low-risk group exhibited relatively longer processing (P400 latency) and greater attention resource allocation (Nc amplitude). Exploratory analyses found associations between ERP responses and later joint attention, suggesting that attention to positive affect cues may support the development of other social competencies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4051-4062
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015



  • Autism
  • ERP
  • Face
  • Infant
  • Joint attention
  • Positive affect
  • Risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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