Family members of individuals with autism often have abnormal eye movements and other sensorimotor and neurobehavioral impairments, according to a study in the August issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago tested eye movement and neurobehavioral function in 57 first-degree relatives of individuals with autism. They compared these results against 40 individuals who were the same age, sex and had the same IQ but did not have a family member with the condition.
Family members of individuals with autism tended to perform more slowly and less accurately on eye movement tasks, including those assessing saccades and smooth-pursuit eye movements.
“First-degree relatives of individuals with autism demonstrate a unique pattern of oculomotor impairments similar to that previously reported in independent samples of individuals with autism, suggesting that these alterations within sensorimotor and cognitive brain circuitry may be familial traits,” the authors wrote.
Mosconi MW, Kay M, D’Cruz AM, et al. Neurobehavioral abnormalities in first-degree relatives of individuals with autism. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010 Aug;67(8):830-40.