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Atypical Development of Attentional Control Associates with Later Adaptive Functioning, Autism and ADHD Traits

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Jones, Emily J. H. 
Bedford, Rachael 
Andersson Konke, Linn 
Begum Ali, Jannath 


Abstract: Autism is frequently associated with difficulties with top-down attentional control, which impact on individuals’ mental health and quality of life. The developmental processes involved in these attentional difficulties are not well understood. Using a data-driven approach, 2 samples (N = 294 and 412) of infants at elevated and typical likelihood of autism were grouped according to profiles of parent report of attention at 10, 15 and 25 months. In contrast to the normative profile of increases in attentional control scores between infancy and toddlerhood, a minority (7–9%) showed plateauing attentional control scores between 10 and 25 months. Consistent with pre-registered hypotheses, plateaued growth of attentional control was associated with elevated autism and ADHD traits, and lower adaptive functioning at age 3 years.


Funder: H2020 European Research Council; doi:

Funder: Research Foundation Flanders

Funder: Universiteit Gent; doi:

Funder: Marguerite-Marie Delacroix

Funder: Autistica; doi:

Funder: Riksbankens Jubileumsfond; doi:; Grant(s): NHS14-1802:1

Funder: K.F. Hein Fonds

Funder: Scott Family Junior Research Fellowship


Original Paper, Autism, ADHD, Attention, Atypical development, Infant, Intermediate phenotype

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Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

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Springer US
Medical Research Council (G0701484, MR/K021389/1)
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (45307004)
Economic and Social Research Council (ES/S011730/1)
Wellcome Trust (103046/Z/13/Z)
King’s College London (GB) (204823/Z/16/Z)