Does attention constrain developmental trajectories in fragile x syndrome? A 3-year prospective longitudinal study.
Cornish K., Cole V., Longhi E., Karmiloff-Smith A., Scerif G.
Basic attentional processes and their impact on developmental trajectories in fragile X syndrome were assessed in a 3-year prospective study. Although fragile X syndrome is a monogenic X-linked disorder, there is striking variability in outcomes even in young boys with the condition. Attention is a key factor constraining interactions with the environment, so it is a perfect candidate to predict trajectories in cognitive and behavioral outcomes. In this study, 48 boys with fragile X syndrome were assessed 3 times over 24 months. Although nonverbal IQ declined, there were significant improvements in nonverbal growth scores and in cognitive attention. In contrast, behavioral difficulties (i.e., autistic symptomatology, hyperactivity-inattention) remained stable over this time frame. Attentional markers in the visual and auditory modalities predicted intellectual abilities and classroom behavior, whereas auditory markers alone predicted autistic symptomatology.