An Early Behavioral Index of ASD from Automated Microanalysis of Movement Dynamics

Biological Psychiatry Volume 83, Issue 9, Supplement 1, 1 May 2018 cover

An Early Behavioral Index of ASD from Automated Microanalysis…

Symptoms of ASD may alter the coordination infant-parent interactions, disrupting successful communication and social interactions. Previous research indicated that six-month-old infants with later ASD did showed no reduction in smiling following parental unresponsiveness (the still-face effect). Using automated tracking, we recently found that older children with and without ASD systematically differ in their head movements to social stimuli. In this study, we employed microanalytic, automated measurement to examine head movement coordination between infants and parents.


Infant-parent dyads (N=64) were video-recorded during the Face-to-Face/Still-Face at 6 months. Angular displacement and velocity of infants’ and parents’ pitch, yaw, and roll were quantified from the video-recordings using a computer-vision approach. We assessed differences in head movement coordination between infants and parents in high-risk children with (High-Risk/ASD, n=10) and without (High-Risk/No-ASD, n=22) ASD, and low-risk children (Low-Risk/No-ASD, n=22).


R-to-Z transformations revealed that the correlations of the angular velocity of the pitch, yaw, and roll between infant and parent head movement were higher in the High-Risk/ASD group than the High-Risk/No-ASD and the Low-Risk/ASD group (ps<.05).


Here, automated measures of early interaction revealed that infants with later ASD had the highest levels of coordination with their parents in the velocity of head movement. Parents of High-Risk/ASD infants may match their infants’ movements more vigilantly than other parents. Previous research indicated that older children with ASD exhibited exaggerated head movement to social stimuli. The findings support the importance of movement atypicalities in ASD and suggest that they warrant further exploration as potential biomarkers.


Biological Psychiatry, Volume 83, Issue 9, Supplement, 1 May 2018, Pages S97-S98, Katherine Martin, Zakia Hammal, Jeff Cohn, Daniel Messinger (Supported By: 1R01GM105004)