Prediction in Typical and Atypical Development

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Forming predictions about what is going to happen next is a crucial ability that develops early in life. Theory and some empirical evidence suggest that predictive abilities may be impaired in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The overarching aim of this thesis is to investigate early measures of prediction in relation to concurrent and later outcomes in typical and atypical development, with a particular focus on ASD and related behavioral problems.In Study I, we used motion capture technology to examine prospective motor control and its relationship to executive functions in typically developing 18-month-olds. Our findings showed that motor control is associated with executive functioning in infancy.Study II investigated motor control in infants at low and elevated likelihood for ASD and examined how these measures relate to later development. We found group differences as well as similarities in motor control in 10-months-olds with and without a familial history of ASD. Early motor measures were related to general developmental level, but not ASD symptomatology in toddlerhood.Using eye tracking, Study III examined how infants with later ASD and neurotypical infants form predictions about visual object motion. Our findings indicated that infants with later ASD were able to form predictions about object motion and adapt to simple changes in motion patterns, and that their performance did not differ from the performance of neurotypical infants.In Study IV, we surveyed parents about their experiences during participation in an infant sibling study of ASD as a first step to understanding the benefits and risks associated with this type of research. Parents were generally positive about their experiences both from their own perspective as well as, the child’s perspective.This thesis illustrates the potential of using advanced technology, such as motion tracking and eye tracking, to study and compare prediction in typical and atypical development. It points to the important role of prediction and motor control for child development, but fails to find a specific link to ASD.