“Signs of autism can be detected in six-month-old babies by measuring brain activity,” the Daily Mail has reported. While the Mail was correct, the research has not yet proved to be a perfect diagnostic test.
This and other related headlines are based on a study that assessed the brain activity of 104 infants aged 6-10 months as they watched an image of an adult’s face whose eyes moved from looking away from them, to directly at the infant, then away again. Researchers called these eye movements ‘dynamic eye-gaze shifts’. They then assessed whether differences in brain activity in response to the eye-gaze shifts were related to autism developing in the same children at three years.