Relatives of Autistics Display Abnormal Eye Movements

Author: JAMA and Archives Journals
Published: 2010/08/02 - Updated: 2022/08/22 - Peer-Reviewed: Yes
Contents: Summary - Definition - Introduction - Main - Related

Synopsis: Abnormal eye movements and other impairments appear common in unaffected family members of individuals with autism. Autism is a highly heritable neuro-developmental disorder with considerable genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity. It's core behavioral features include social and communication impairments, behavioral inflexibility, and executive dysfunction. Family members also demonstrated executive dysfunction on neuropsychological tests, communication abnormalities, and increased rates of obsessive and compulsive behaviors, but these were independent of one another and oculomotor impairments.

Introduction

Abnormal eye movements and other sensorimotor and neuro-behavioral impairments appear common in unaffected family members of individuals with autism, according to a report in the August issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Main Digest

"Autism is a highly heritable neuro-developmental disorder with considerable genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity," the authors write as background information in the article. "It's core behavioral features include social and communication impairments, behavioral inflexibility and executive dysfunction."

Several sensorimotor features have also been shown to be abnormal in some patients with autism. Common impairments include deficits in saccades, or rapid eye movements that shift between objects in the field of vision, and smooth-pursuit eye movements, in which the gaze is stabilized on a slowly moving object.

Matthew W. Mosconi, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago conducted eye movement testing and other assessments of neuro-behavioral function in 57 first-degree relatives of individuals with autism. Their results were compared with those of 40 individuals who were the same age and sex and had the same IQ but did not have a family member with the condition.

Compared with controls, family members of individuals with autism tended to perform more slowly and less accurately on eye movement tasks, including those assessing saccades and smooth-pursuit eye movements.

"The present findings document that first-degree relatives of individuals with autism demonstrate a unique pattern of oculomotor impairments similar to that previously reported in independent samples of individuals with autism, suggesting that these alterations within sensorimotor and cognitive brain circuitry may be familial traits," the authors write.

"Family members also demonstrated executive dysfunction on neuropsychological tests, communication abnormalities and increased rates of obsessive and compulsive behaviors, but these were independent of one another and oculomotor impairments," they continue.

The abnormalities were associated with several brain pathways, including the cerebellar, frontotemporal, striatal, and prefrontal circuits linked to autism, some of which are important for language skills, motor control, and executive control function, or the control and regulation of behavior. The results suggest that these potentially familial deficits could be "useful for studies of neuro-physiological and genetic mechanisms in autism," the authors conclude.

"Further work is needed by replicating our findings, quantitative evaluation of the familiarity of these traits in family trios, and efforts to demonstrate the association of oculomotor and other phenotypes with genetic mechanisms."

This study was supported by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Collaborative Program of Excellence in Autism, a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health Autism Center of Excellence, the National Alliance for Autism Research and an Autism Speaks fellowship.

Resources That Provide Relevant Information

Attribution/Source(s):

This peer reviewed publication titled Relatives of Autistics Display Abnormal Eye Movements was selected for publishing by Disabled World's editors due to its relevance to the disability community. While the content may have been edited for style, clarity, or brevity, it was originally authored by JAMA and Archives Journals and published 2010/08/02 (Edit Update: 2022/08/22). For further details or clarifications, you can contact JAMA and Archives Journals directly at jamanetwork.com Disabled World does not provide any warranties or endorsements related to this article.

Related Publications

Share This Information To:
𝕏.com Facebook Reddit

Page Information, Citing and Disclaimer

Disabled World is an independent disability community founded in 2004 to provide news and information to people with disabilities, seniors, their family and carers. We'd love for you to follow and connect with us on social media!

Cite This Page (APA): JAMA and Archives Journals. (2010, August 2 - Last revised: 2022, August 22). Relatives of Autistics Display Abnormal Eye Movements. Disabled World. Retrieved June 13, 2024 from www.disabled-world.com/health/neurology/autism/autism-eye-movements.php

Permalink: <a href="https://www.disabled-world.com/health/neurology/autism/autism-eye-movements.php">Relatives of Autistics Display Abnormal Eye Movements</a>: Abnormal eye movements and other impairments appear common in unaffected family members of individuals with autism.

Disabled World provides general information only. Materials presented are never meant to substitute for qualified medical care. Any 3rd party offering or advertising does not constitute an endorsement.