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Anxiety and Attentional Bias to Threat in Children at Increased Familial Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

The BASIS Team

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Jan 2017


King's Authors


Anxiety and threat bias were examined in 6-8-year-old children at familial-risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and low-risk (LR, n = 37) controls. The high-risk (HR) group was divided into those who met diagnostic criteria for ASD (HR-ASD, n = 15) and those who did not (HR-non ASD, n = 24). The HR-ASD group had highest levels of parent-reported anxiety. The HR-non ASD group exhibited increased threat bias on a spatial-cueing task, while the HR-ASD group did not. Anxiety symptoms were associated with both threat bias and ASD severity. These findings suggest that the mechanisms underlying anxiety in HR siblings without ASD are similar to those in non-ASD populations. However, among children with ASD, hypersensitivity to threat may not underlie anxiety symptoms.

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