Within WP2, a group of 3 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) will receive a comprehensive training focused on delivering cutting-edge scientific research. Each ESR will work on an individual research project to determine how the child drives the development of social interaction. In WP2 we examine how various kinds of child factors shape parent-child interactions using two principal approaches: The first approach is to inspect the scope and cross-correspondences of typical trajectories on various child factors that contribute to social development (ESR5: language and face-processing; ESR6: speech and motor development) before examining whether the same markers also predict development in at-risk populations. The second approach examines how infant behaviours and brain responses during social interaction relate to social outcomes in a specific group: infants from a community sample who show child characteristics earlier identified in high-risk groups as early markers of ASD (ESR7). Both approaches thus centre on developing and validating new infant markers and methodologies on how infants drive social interaction. We will mainly make use of current and existing longitudinal data sets that comprise both typically-developing children as well as those at increased risk of ASD, that started sampling in infancy but will have childhood outcomes available, and that convey repeated recordings of parent-child interactions. To complement training of individual ESRs, WP2 will lead training school 6 on typical and atypical trajectories on different aspects of child development (language and speech; motor; social development).

WP2 leaders: dr Caroline Junge (UUtrecht) & dr Ewa Haman (UniWaw)

Individual ESR projects:

ESR5: How language and social development interact and affect social interaction across development: Comparing typical and atypical trajectories. Primary supervisors: dr Caroline Junge and dr Carlijn van den Boomen (UUtrecht), Co-supervisor: prof. Chantal Kemner (UUtrecht), site: UUtrecht, the Netherlands.

ESR6: Intelligent tools for investigating early social precursors and biomarkers of ASD. Supervisors: prof. Maria Luisa Scattoni (ISS), Co-supervisor: Giovanni Pioggia (CNR), site: ISS, Italy.

ESR7: Early cognitive, social and neural mechanisms that precede clinical onset of ASD in a community sample. Supervisors: prof. Jan Buitelaar (SKU), Iris Oosterling (Karakter), prof. Sabine Hunnius (SKU), site: SKU, the Netherlands.