Charles Nelson

Charles Nelson
Harvard Medical School | HMS · Department of Pediatrics

PhD

About

656
Publications
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38,101
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Publications

Publications (656)
Article
Full-text available
Background: Differences in face processing in individuals with ASD is hypothesized to impact the development of social communication skills. This study aimed to characterize the neural correlates of face processing in 12-month-old infants at familial risk of developing ASD by (1) comparing face-sensitive event-related potentials (ERP) (Nc, N290, P...
Article
CDKL5 deficiency disorder is a debilitating developmental and epileptic encephalopathy for which no targeted treatment exists. A number of promising therapeutics are under development for CDKL5 deficiency disorder but a lack of validated biomarkers of brain function and clinical severity may limit the ability to objectively assess the efficacy of n...
Article
Background: Systematic data regarding long-term neurobehavioral effects of maternal antidepressant use during pregnancy are sparse. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of gestational exposure to antidepressants on later neurodevelopmental function. Methods: This study describes a cohort of mother-child dyads (44 mothers, 54 children...
Article
Institutional rearing negatively impacts the development of children's social skills and executive functions (EF). However, little is known about whether childhood social skills mediate the effects of the foster care intervention and foster caregiving quality following early institutional rearing on EF and social skills in adolescence. We examined...
Article
Over the last 20 years, we have learned much about the extent to which early‐life deprivation affects the mental health of children and adolescents. This body of evidence comes predominantly from studies of children raised in institutional care. The Bucharest Early Intervention Project (BEIP) is the only randomized controlled trial designed to eval...
Preprint
A bstract Background Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is the most prevalent form of inherited intellectual disability and is the most common monogenetic cause of autism. Previous studies have linked the structural and functional alterations in FXS with impaired sensory processing and sensory hypersensitivity, which may hinder the early development of cogn...
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There is a growing interest in using electroencephalography (EEG) and source modeling to investigate functional interactions among cortical processes, particularly when dealing with pediatric populations. This paper introduces two pipelines that have been recently used to conduct EEG FC analysis in the cortical source space. The analytic streams of...
Article
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Visual exploration paradigms involving object arrays have been used to examine salience of social stimuli such as faces in ASD. Recent work suggests performance on these paradigms may associate with clinical features of ASD. We evaluate metrics from a visual exploration paradigm in 4-to-11-year-old children with ASD (n = 23; 18 males) and typical d...
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In this study we investigated the impact of parental language input on language development and associated neuroscillatory patterns in toddlers at risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Forty-six mother-toddler dyads at either high (n = 22) or low (n = 24) familial risk of ASD completed a longitudinal, prospective study including free-play, restin...
Article
When designing and interpreting results from clinical trials evaluating treatments for children on the autism spectrum, a complicating factor is that most children receive a range of concurrent treatments. Thus, it is important to better understand the types and hours of interventions that participants typically receive as part of standard of care,...
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Social cognition skills and socioemotional development are compromised in children growing up in low SES contexts, however, the mechanisms underlying this association remain unknown. Exposure to psychosocial risk factors early in life alters the child’s social milieu and in turn, could lead to atypical processing of social stimuli. In this study, w...
Preprint
Open science practices work to increase methodological rigor, transparency, and replicability of published findings. This review aims to reflect and commemorate what the functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) community has done to promote open science practices in fNIRS research and set goals to accomplish over the next ten years.
Article
As the science of adversity and resilience advances, and public awareness of the health consequences of stress grows, primary care providers are being increasingly asked to address the effects of adverse experiences on child wellbeing. Given limited tools for assessing these effects early in life, the authors explore how enhanced capacity to measur...
Article
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Background We assessed the feasibility of implementing psychological counseling services (PCS) for mothers of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) integrated within special education settings in urban Bangladesh. Method In two special education schools for ASD in Dhaka City, trained female psychologists screened mothers using the Patient...
Article
Full-text available
Background Eye tracking (ET) is a powerful methodology for studying attentional processes through quantification of eye movements. The precision, usability, and cost-effectiveness of ET render it a promising platform for developing biomarkers for use in clinical trials for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Methods The autism biomarkers consortium fo...
Article
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There is strong support for the view that children growing up in low‐income homes typically evince poorer performance on tests of inhibitory control compared to those growing up in higher income homes. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the work documenting this association has been conducted in high‐income countries. It is not yet known whether t...
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Background In the 6 months following our estimates from March 1, 2020, to April 30, 2021, the proliferation of new coronavirus variants, updated mortality data, and disparities in vaccine access increased the amount of children experiencing COVID-19-associated orphanhood. To inform responses, we aimed to model the increases in numbers of children a...
Article
Full-text available
Time-resolved multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA), a popular technique for analyzing magneto- and electro-encephalography (M/EEG) neuroimaging data, quantifies the extent and time-course by which neural representations support the discrimination of relevant stimuli dimensions. As EEG is widely used for infant neuroimaging, time-resolved MVPA of in...
Article
Full-text available
We utilized a community detection approach to longitudinally (a) identify distinct groups of children with common temperament profiles in infancy and at 2 and 3 years of age and (b) determine whether co‐occurrence of certain temperament traits may be early predictors of internalizing problems at 5 years of age. Seven hundred and seventy‐four infant...
Article
The human brain develops through a complex interplay of genetic and environmental influences. During critical periods of development, experiences shape brain architecture, often with long-lasting effects. If experiences are adverse, the effects may include the risk of mental and physical disease, whereas positive environments may increase the likel...
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Background The use of data in targeting malaria control efforts is essential for optimal use of resources. This work provides a practical mechanism for prioritizing geographic areas for insecticide-treated net (ITN) distribution campaigns in settings with limited resources. Methods A GIS-based weighted approach was adopted to categorize and rank a...
Preprint
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Over 300 million children grow up in environments of extreme poverty, and the biological and psychosocial hazards endemic to these environments often expose these children to infection, disease, and consequent inflammatory responses. Chronic inflammation in early childhood has been associated with diminished cognitive outcomes and despite this esta...
Article
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Background Early identification of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) provides an opportunity for early intervention and improved developmental outcomes. The use of electroencephalography (EEG) in infancy has shown promise in predicting later ASD diagnoses and in identifying neural mechanisms underlying the disorder. Given the high co-morbidity with la...
Article
Full-text available
The first years of life are a sensitive period of rapid neural and immune system development vulnerable to the impact of adverse experiences. Several studies support inflammation as a consequence of various adversities and an exposure negatively associated with developmental outcomes. The mechanism by which systemic inflammation may affect brain de...
Article
Autonomic nervous system reactivity has been posited to be a mechanism contributing to social and emotional problems among children exposed to early adversity. Leveraging data from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project, a longitudinal randomized controlled trial of foster care versus institutional care of abandoned children in Romania, we assess...
Article
Full-text available
We investigated gestures that parents used with 12-, 18-, and 24-month-old infants at high or low risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD; high-risk diagnosed with ASD: n = 21; high-risk classified as no ASD: n = 34; low-risk classified as no ASD: n = 34). We also examined infant responses to parent gestures and assessed the extent to which parent g...
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Inflammation may adversely affect early human brain development. We aimed to assess the role of maternal nutrition and infections on cord blood inflammation. In a pregnancy cohort in Sylhet, Bangladesh, we enrolled 251 consecutive pregnancies resulting in a term livebirth from July 2016–March 2017. Stillbirths, preterm births, and cases of neonatal...
Article
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BACKGROUND Most coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) deaths occur among adults, not children, and attention has focused on mitigating COVID-19 burden among adults. However, a tragic consequence of adult deaths is that high numbers of children might lose their parents and caregivers to COVID-19–associated deaths. METHODS We quantified COVID-19–assoc...
Article
Full-text available
Diminished physical growth is a common marker of malnutrition and it affects approximately 200 million children worldwide. Despite its importance and prevalence, it is not clear whether diminished growth relates to brain development and general cognitive ability. Further, diminished growth is more common in areas of extreme poverty, raising the pos...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: The purpose of this study was to test associations between maternal stress, maternal mindset, and infant neurodevelopment at 12 months of age. Specifically, we sought to examine the extent to which maternal growth mindsets may serve to attenuate the negative associations between maternal stress and infants' neurodevelopment. Methods:...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background Identifying neural markers of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) before behavioral symptoms emerge can improve outcomes through early treatment. This study aimed to characterize the neural correlates of face processing in 12-month-old infants at familial risk of developing ASD by (1) comparing face-sensitive event-related potentials (ERP) (N...
Article
Full-text available
Perceiving faces and understanding emotions are key components of human social cognition. Prior research with adults and infants suggests that these social cognitive functions are supported by superior temporal cortex (STC) and medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC). We used functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to characterize functional response...
Article
Frontal electroencephalography (EEG) alpha asymmetry (FAA), defined as the difference in frontal alpha power observed over the right and left frontal scalp regions, has been widely used in developmental research as a measure of multiple aspects of child behavior, such as temperament. Studies have used different equations to calculate FAA, which ren...
Article
Full-text available
Background The COVID-19 pandemic priorities have focused on prevention, detection, and response. Beyond morbidity and mortality, pandemics carry secondary impacts, such as children orphaned or bereft of their caregivers. Such children often face adverse consequences, including poverty, abuse, and institutionalisation. We provide estimates for the m...
Preprint
Full-text available
Time-resolved multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA), a popular technique for analyzing magneto- and electro-encephalography (M/EEG) neuroimaging data, quantifies the extent and time-course by which neural representations support the discrimination of relevant stimuli dimensions. As EEG is widely used for infant neuroimaging, time-resolved MVPA of in...
Article
Full-text available
Studies of infants growing up in high-income countries reveal developmental changes in electroencephalography (EEG) power whereby socioeconomic factors - specifically, lower SES and lower income - are associated with lower EEG power in infants aged newborn to nine months. In the current paper we explore relationships of spectral EEG power across th...
Article
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Phase-amplitude coupling (PAC), the coupling of the phase of slower electrophysiological oscillations with the amplitude of faster oscillations, is thought to facilitate dynamic integration of neural activity in the brain. Although the brain undergoes dramatic change and development during the first few years of life, how PAC changes through this d...
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Background: Postnatal maternal anxiety is common (estimates as high as 40% prevalence) and is associated with altered mother-infant interactions (e.g., reduced maternal emotional expression and engagement). Neural circuitry supporting infants' face and emotion processing develops in their first year. Thus, early exposure to maternal anxiety may im...
Article
This study examined whether early institutional rearing and attachment security influence the quality and quantity of friendships at age 16 in 138 participants, including children abandoned to institutions in Bucharest, Romania, who were randomized to care as usual (n=45, 26 female), or foster care (n=47, 25 female), and a never-institutionalized g...
Preprint
Background The use of data in targeting of malaria control efforts is becoming increasingly adopted by national malaria control programmes and is essential for optimal use of resources. This is especially important during public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in reallocation of funding towards containment efforts. T...
Article
Full-text available
Background Phelan-McDermid Syndrome (PMS) is a rare condition caused by deletion or mutation of the SHANK3 gene. Individuals with PMS frequently present with intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, and other neurodevelopmental challenges. Electroencephalography (EEG) can provide a window into network-level function in PMS. Methods Here,...
Article
Children reared in institutions experience severe psychosocial deprivation, resulting in lasting consequences for social and emotional development. This study evaluated growth trajectories of self-regulation from ages 8 to 16 among previously institutionalized children randomized to foster care (foster-care group; FCG) or to remain in institutional...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Early identification of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) provides opportunity for early intervention and improved outcomes. Electroencephalography (EEG) use in infants has shown promise in predicting later ASD diagnoses and in identifying neural mechanisms underlying the disorder. Given the high co-morbidity with language impairment, we a...
Article
Full-text available
Females versus males are less frequently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and while understanding sex differences is critical to delineating the systems biology of the condition, female ASD is understudied. We integrated functional MRI and genetic data in a sex-balanced sample of ASD and typically developing youth (8-17 years old) to...
Article
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We examined the communicative intentions behind parents' deictic gesture use with high-risk infants later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD; n = 17), high-risk infants who were not diagnosed with ASD (n = 25), and low-risk infants (n = 28) at 12 months and assessed the extent to which the parental deictic gesture intentions predicted inf...
Article
Full-text available
Poverty and teenage pregnancy are common in low-and-middle-income countries and can impede the development of healthy parent-child relationships. This study aimed to test whether a home-visiting intervention could improve early attachment relationships between adolescent mothers and their infants living in poverty in Brazil. Analyses were conducted...
Article
Objective: Early psychosocial deprivation increases the risk of later cognitive and psychiatric problems, but not all deprived children show these difficulties. Here, we examine the extent to which psychosocial deprivation increases the risk of later cognitive and psychiatric difficulties and the downstream consequences of this for risk-taking beha...
Article
Full-text available
Background The lack of robust and reliable clinical biomarkers in Fragile X Syndrome (FXS), the most common inherited form of intellectual disability, has limited the successful translation of bench-to-bedside therapeutics. While numerous drugs have shown promise in reversing synaptic and behavioral phenotypes in mouse models of FXS, none have demo...
Preprint
Full-text available
Diminished physical growth is a common marker of malnutrition and it af- fects approximately 200 million children worldwide. Despite its importance and prevalence, it is not clear whether diminished growth affects brain development and neurocognitive outcomes. Further, diminished growth is more common in areas of extreme poverty, raising the possib...
Article
Full-text available
The processing of facial emotion is an important social skill that develops throughout infancy and early childhood. Here we investigate the neural underpinnings of the ability to process facial emotion across changes in facial identity in cross-sectional groups of 5- and 7-month-old infants. We simultaneously measured neural metabolic, behavioral,...
Article
Exposure to high levels of early life stress have been associated with long-term difficulties in learning, behavior, and health, with particular impact evident in the language domain. While some have proposed that the increased stress of living in a low-income household mediates observed associations between socioeconomic status (SES) and child out...
Article
Objective The aim of the current study was to evaluate the utility of evoked potentials as a biomarker of cortical function in Rett syndrome (RTT). As a number of disease‐modifying therapeutics are currently under development, there is a pressing need for biomarkers to objectively and precisely assess the effectiveness of these treatments. Method...
Article
Full-text available
Electrophysiological studies on adults suggest that humans are efficient at detecting threat from facial information and tend to grant these signals a priority in access to attention, awareness, and action. The developmental origins of this bias are poorly understood, partly because few studies have examined the emergence of a generalized neural an...
Preprint
Full-text available
Early identification of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) provides an opportunity for early intervention and improved outcomes. Use of electroencephalography (EEG) in infants has shown promise in predicting later ASD diagnoses and in identifying neural mechanisms underlying the disorder. Given the high co-morbidity with language impairment in ASD, we...
Article
Full-text available
To current study aimed to estimate the point prevalence and identify correlates of postpartum depression (PPD) in a sample of mothers in Dhaka. A total of 235 participants from low‐ and middle‐SES neighbourhoods in Dhaka completed the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and other assessments of socioeconomic and psychological factors at 24...
Article
Full-text available
Infants at high familial risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are at increased risk for language impairments. Studies have demonstrated that atypical brain response to speech is related to language impairments in this population, but few have examined this relation longitudinally. We used functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to investig...
Article
Full-text available
Background The quality of early caregiving experiences is a known contributor to the quality of the language experiences young children receive. What is unknown is whether, and if so, how psychosocial deprivation early in life is associated with long-lasting receptive language outcomes. Methods Two prospective longitudinal studies examining early...
Article
Objective: Early psychosocial deprivation is associated with increased risk for psychopathology, yet few studies have examined outcomes in adolescents. Method: At baseline (M age 22 months), 136 children from Bucharest, Romania, living in large institutions, were randomized into foster care (FCG) or to care as usual (CAUG). Caregivers completed...
Article
Early adversity has been shown to sensitize individuals to the effects of later stress and enhance risk of psychopathology. Using a longitudinal randomized trial of foster care as an alternative to institutional care, we extend the stress sensitization hypothesis to examine whether early institutional rearing sensitizes individuals to stressful eve...
Article
Full-text available
Children who spend their early lives in institutions experience profound psychosocial deprivation that is associated with altered stress response system development. Here, we used data from a longitudinal randomized controlled trial of foster care for institutionally reared children to examine whether caregiving quality and stressful life events (S...