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  1. We integrated data from a newborn hearing screening database and a preschool disability database to examine the relationship between newborn click evoked auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) and developmental disabilities. This sample included children with developmental delay (n = 2992), speech impairment (SI, n = 905), language impairment (n = 566), autism spectrum disorder (ASD, n = 370), and comparison children (n = 128,181). We compared the phase of the ABR waveform, a measure of sound processing latency, across groups. Children with SI and children with ASD had greater newborn ABR phase values than both the comparison group and the developmental delay group. Newborns later diagnosed with SI or ASD have slower neurological responses to auditory stimuli, suggesting sensory differences at birth.
  2. Females generally attend more to social information than males; however, little is known about the early development of these sex differences. With eye tracking, we measured 2-month-olds’ (N=101) social orienting to faces within 4-item image arrays. Infants, overall, were more likely to detect human faces compared to objects, suggesting a functional face detection system. Unexpectedly, males looked longer at human faces than females, and only males looked faster and longer at human faces compared to objects. Females, in contrast, looked less at human faces relative to animal faces and objects, appearing socially disinterested. Notably, this is the first report of a male face detection advantage at any age. These findings suggest a unique stage in early infant social development.
  3. Previous studies report prolonged auditory brainstem response (ABR) in children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Despite its promise as a biomarker, it is unclear whether healthy newborns who later develop ASD also show ABR abnormalities. In the current study, we extracted ABR data on 139,154 newborns from their Universal Newborn Hearing Screening, including 321 newborns who were later diagnosed with ASD. We found that the ASD newborns had significant prolongations of their ABR phase and V‐negative latency compared with the non‐ASD newborns. Newborns in the ASD group also exhibited greater variance in their latencies compared to previous studies in older ASD samples, likely due in part to the low intensity of the ABR stimulus. These findings suggest that newborns display neurophysiological variation associated with ASD at birth. Future studies with higher‐intensity stimulus ABRs may allow more accurate predictions of ASD risk, which could augment the universal ABR test that currently screens millions of newborns worldwide.
  4. Humans demonstrate enhanced processing of human faces compared with animal faces, known as own-species bias. This bias is important for identifying people who may cause harm, as well as for recognizing friends and kin. However, growing evidence also indicates a more general face bias. Faces have high evolutionary importance beyond conspecific interactions, as they aid in detecting predators and prey. Few studies have explored the interaction of these biases together. In three experiments, we explored processing of human and animal faces, compared with each other and to nonface objects, which allowed us to examine both own-species and broader face biases. We used a dot-probe paradigm to examine human adults’ covert attentional biases for task-irrelevant human faces, animal faces, and objects. We replicated the own-species attentional bias for human faces relative to animal faces. We also found an attentional bias for animal faces relative to objects, consistent with the proposal that faces broadly receive privileged processing. Our findings suggest that humans may be attracted to a broad class of faces. Further, we found that while participants rapidly attended to human faces across all cue display durations, they attended to animal faces only when they had sufficient time to process them. Ourmore »findings reveal that the dot-probe paradigm is sensitive for capturing both own-species and more general face biases, and that each has a different attentional signature, possibly reflecting their unique but overlapping evolutionary importance.« less
  5. The present study explored behavioral norms for infant social attention in typically developing human and nonhuman primate infants. We examined the normative development of attention to dynamic social and nonsocial stimuli longitudinally in macaques (Macaca mulatta) at 1, 3, and 5 months of age (N = 75) and humans at 2, 4, 6, 8, and 13 months of age (N = 69) using eye tracking. All infants viewed concurrently played silent videos—one social video and one nonsocial video. Both macaque and human infants were faster to look to the social than the nonsocial stimulus, and both species grew faster to orient to the social stimulus with age. Further, macaque infants’ social attention increased linearly from 1 to 5 months. In contrast, human infants displayed a nonlinear pattern of social interest, with initially greater attention to the social stimulus, followed by a period of greater interest in the nonsocial stimulus, and then a rise in social interest from 6 to 13 months. Overall, human infants looked longer than macaque infants, suggesting humans have more sustained attention in the first year of life. These findings highlight potential species similarities and differences, and reflect a first step in establishing baseline patterns of earlymore »social attention development.« less