Atypical sensory responsivity in early childhood: identification of brain-based risk and resilience features and characterisation of developmental cascades

Year of award: 2023


  • Dr Virginia Carter Leno

    King's College London, United Kingdom

Project summary

How infants learn to interpret and respond to their surrounding sensory environment is a fundamental developmental process. Alterations in this process may have wide-reaching consequences; atypical sensory responsivity is present from early infancy in a range of neurodevelopmental conditions. However, the neurobiological mechanisms that contribute to individual differences in sensory responsivity early in child, and the longer-term impacts of alterations in these mechanisms on key developmental outcomes, are not well understood. This project will combine large-scale existing datasets of infants followed from early infancy to toddlerhood with data collection using novel integrated neuroimaging-virtual reality (VR) methodologies. This innovative approach will allow me to establish the cortical features associated with atypical sensory responsivity in both controlled presentations of isolated stimuli and complex real-world sensory environments. This project will advance current understanding of brain-based risk (sensitivity) and resilience (regulation) features that underpin sensory responsivity in toddlerhood, and map the cascading consequences of individual differences in these neurobiological mechanisms on child development. This project will elucidate the factors that may explain why some children respond very differently to sensory inputs, and may lead to important insights as to where to best target support for children with atypical sensory responsivity to promote positive outcomes.