Project 2: Social attention in Autism & risk for psychosis
Adequate social functioning is dependent on what people attend to in their social environment, since it allows them to pick up on social cues of others and to initiate an appropriate response. This type of attention is referred to as ‘social attention’, which can be assessed by tracking a person’s eye movements and pupil dilation. Recent evidence in adults with autism and schizophrenia has shown that social attention is a sensitive and promising target for discriminating between unique and shared deficits in social brain function. However, it is still unknown whether these vulnerability markers are already present before the onset of psychosis. To investigate this, the current project sets out to assess social attention in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder, adolescents with a clinical high-risk for psychosis without autism, and comparison group without autism/risk for psychosis. The results will provide an important addition to help disentangle specific social-cognitive abilities that play an important role in the development and possible prevention of psychosis. This project will start in January 2018 in collaboration with the Department of Psychiatry at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam (Prof. Lieuwe de Haan) and the Department of Clinical Child and Adolescent Studies at Leiden University (dr. Sophie van Rijn).