Researchers recently discovered that nine-month-old infants with increased visual searching abilities showed more autism symptoms at 15 months and two years. 

A. Example stimuli and the areas of interest used in analysis. B. Example of behaviors assessed, such as anticipation of social contact and attention shifting. C. Example of behaviors assessed, such as pretend play and pointing.

Investigators from Babylab at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development at Birkbeck, University of London, used eye-tracking technology to follow infants’ gazes when presented with letters on a screen. They studied 82 at-risk infants and 27 low-risk infants as controls, demonstrating, “for the first time, a relationship between superior visual search abilities during infancy and the severity of later autism symptoms,” study author Teodora Gliga, PhD, writes.

The study supports evidence that perception and attention are more important than previously believed in autism’s developmental pathway, the authors say. Investigators hope to continue research into why children with autism have improved visual perception, as well as the link between perception and social difficulties. 

Gliga T, Bedford R, Charman T, et al. Enhanced visual search in infancy predicts emerging autism symptoms. Current Biology. 2015;25:1-4. 

Mascot Cleared in Hot Dog-Related Retinal Detatchment
A Jackson County, Kan., jury recently ruled against resident James Coomer, who had sought $300,000 in damages against the Kansas City Royals for injuries he sustained during a 2009 game.
According to court documents, Coomer was diagnosed with both a detached retina and a traumatic cataract eight days after being struck in the eye with a foil-wrapped hot dog thrown by the team’s mascot, Sluggerrr. A 2011 ruling said Mr. Coomer was at fault. However, after an appeal, the case was sent back down for review. The Jackson County jury again handed up a decision in favor of Sluggerrr, effectively upholding the baseball rule that fans are responsible for being aware of their surroundings during a game.