The way that babies as young as six months look at the eyes of other people may be an early sign of autism, a new study suggests. Researchers looked at brain scans of infants as they were shown pictures of faces, and those who were later diagnosed with autism showed marked differences in brain activity from those who were not later diagnosed with the condition when the eyes in the pictures were directed at the infants.
The study included 104 babies who either had a higher risk of developing autism, because they had a sibling with the condition, or had no family history of autism.
"This study takes us a step further in understanding what goes on in the brain that subsequently causes autism to emerge in children," said study researcher Mayada Elsabbagh, a scientist at McGill University in Canada. The study is published in Current Biology.