Luke Mason

Luke Mason
Birkbeck, University of London · Department of Psychological Sciences

Doctor of Psychology

About

79
Publications
25,515
Reads
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784
Citations
Introduction
My primary research interest is to use data to better understand and parse the heterogeneity of psychological and developmental disorders. Meeting the promise of personalised treatment is dependent upon repeatable, objective markers of neurocognitive function, and analytic techniques that allow us to stratify samples into biologically, genetically and clinically-meaningful subgroups.
Additional affiliations
February 2013 - present
King's College London
Position
  • Visiting Researcher
February 2013 - present
Birkbeck, University of London
Position
  • Research Associate
June 2012 - February 2013
Goldsmiths, University of London
Position
  • PhD Student
Education
October 2009 - June 2012
Goldsmiths
Field of study
  • Psychology
October 2008 - September 2009
Goldsmiths, University of London
Field of study
  • Psychology
October 2005 - July 2008
Goldsmiths, University of London
Field of study
  • Psychology

Publications

Publications (79)
Conference Paper
Full-text available
There are no medical treatments for the core symptoms of ASD because the pathophysiological mechanisms are poorly understood. Monogenic forms of ASD offer novel opportunities for the understanding of pathophysiological mechanisms. In 1-2% of cases, ASD is caused by a haplo-insufficiency of the SHANK3 gene (Phelan-McDermid Syndrome – PMS [1]). SHANK...
Article
Full-text available
We investigated the electrophysiological correlates of somatosensory processing under different arm postures by recording event-related potentials at frontal, central and centroparietal sites during tactile stimulation of the hands. Short series of 200 ms vibrotactile stimuli were presented to the palms of the participants' hands, one hand at a tim...
Article
Full-text available
The neural correlates of intraindividual response variability were investigated in a serial choice reaction time (CRT) task. Reaction times (RTs) from the faster and slower portions of the RT distribution for the task were separately aggregated and associated P300 event-related potentials computed. Independent behavioral measures of executive funct...
Article
Full-text available
Background Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a genetic disorder often associated with cognitive dysfunctions, including a high occurrence of deficits in visuoperceptual skills. The neural underpinnings of these visuoperceptual deficits are not fully understood. We used steady-state visual evoked potentials (SSVEPs) to investigate possible alteratio...
Article
Full-text available
Across cultures, imitation provides a crucial route to learning during infancy. However, neural predictors which would enable early identification of infants at risk of suboptimal developmental outcomes are still rare. In this paper, we examine associations between ERP markers of habituation and novelty detection measured at 1 and 5 months of infan...
Article
Background Studying the neural processing of faces can illuminate the mechanisms of compromised social expertise in autism. To resolve a longstanding debate, we examined whether differences in configural face processing in autism are underpinned by quantitative differences in the activation of typical face processing pathways, or the recruitment of...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Understanding the development of the neuronal circuitry underlying autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is critical to shed light into its etiology and for the development of treatment options. Resting state EEG provides a window into spontaneous local and long-range neuronal synchronization and has been investigated in many ASD studies, but...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Social attention affords learning opportunities across development and may contribute to individual differences in developmental trajectories, such as between male and female individuals, and in neurodevelopmental conditions, such as autism. Methods: Using eye-tracking, we measured social attention in a large cohort of autistic (n =...
Article
Background : Measurement of social and cognitive brain development using electroencephalography (EEG) offers the potential for early identification of children with elevated risk of developmental delay. However, there have been no published reports of how acceptable EEG technology is to parents and children within communities, especially in low-res...
Preprint
Full-text available
To what extent do individual differences in infants’ early preference for faces versus non-facial objects reflect genetic and environmental factors? In a sample of 536 5-month-old same-sex twins, we assessed attention to faces using eye-tracking in two ways: initial orienting to faces at the start of the trial (thought to reflect subcortical proces...
Article
Background: Uncovering the neural mechanisms that underlie symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) requires studying brain development prior to the emergence of behavioural difficulties. One new approach to this is prospective studies of infants with an elevated likelihood of developing ADHD. Methods: We used a prospective de...
Preprint
Background The excitatory/inhibitory (E/I) imbalance hypothesis posits that an imbalance between excitatory (glutamatergic) and inhibitory (GABAergic) mechanisms underlies the behavioral characteristics of autism spectrum disorder (autism). However, how E/I imbalance arises and how it may differ across autism symptomatology and brain regions is not...
Article
Full-text available
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is first diagnosed during middle childhood, when patterns of difficulty are often established. Pre-emptive approaches that strengthen developing cognitive systems could offer an alternative to post-diagnostic interventions. This proof-of-concept randomised controlled trial (RCT) tested whether compute...
Article
Full-text available
Background The neurocognitive mechanisms underlying autism spectrum disorder (ASD) remain unclear. Progress has been largely hampered by small sample sizes, variable age ranges and resulting inconsistent findings. There is a pressing need for large definitive studies to delineate the nature and extent of key case/control differences to direct resea...
Article
Full-text available
Backgrounds Atypicalities in tactile processing are reported in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) but it remains unknown if they precede and associate with the traits of these disorders emerging in childhood. We investigated behavioural and neural markers of tactile sensory processing in infants at e...
Article
Full-text available
Background Sensory modulation difficulties are common in children with conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and could contribute to other social and non-social symptoms. Positing a causal role for sensory processing differences requires observing atypical sensory reactivity prior to the emergence of other symptoms, which can be achieve...
Article
Full-text available
Lay abstract: Research suggests a relationship between autism and anorexia nervosa. For example, rigid and inflexible behaviour, a preference for routine and social difficulties are seen in both conditions. In this study, we examined whether people with anorexia and people with autism show similarities in social attention (where they look while en...
Article
Full-text available
Electroencephalography (EEG) has substantial potential value for examining individual differences during early development. Current challenges in developmental EEG research include high dropout rates and low trial numbers, which may in part be due to passive stimulus presentation. Comparability is challenged by idiosyncratic processing pipelines. W...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a genetic disorder often associated with cognitive dysfunctions, including a high occurrence of deficits in visuoperceptual skills. The neural underpinnings of these visuoperceptual deficits are not fully understood. We used steady-state visual evoked potentials (SSVEPs) to investigate possible alterati...
Article
Objective: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is accompanied by highly individualized neuroanatomical deviations that potentially map onto distinct genotypes and clinical phenotypes. This study aimed to link differences in brain anatomy to specific biological pathways to pave the way toward targeted therapeutic interventions. Methods: The authors ex...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Although autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is heritable, the mechanisms through which genes contribute to symptom emergence remain unclear. Investigating candidate intermediate phenotypes such as the pupillary light reflex (PLR) prospectively from early in development could bridge genotype and behavioural phenotype. Methods: Using eye t...
Article
Full-text available
Background ASD and ADHD are prevalent neurodevelopmental disorders that frequently co-occur and have strong evidence for a degree of shared genetic aetiology. Behavioural and neurocognitive heterogeneity in ASD and ADHD has hampered attempts to map the underlying genetics and neurobiology, predict intervention response, and improve diagnostic accur...
Preprint
Full-text available
A core goal of functional neuroimaging is to study how the environment is processed in the brain. The mainstream paradigm involves concurrently measuring a broad spectrum of brain responses to a small set of environmental features preselected with reference to previous studies or a theoretical framework. As a complement, we invert this approach by...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives To determine the relationship between iron status in early infancy (1–5 months) and longitudinal trajectories of cognitive development (5–18 months) in a cohort of infants from rural Gambia. Methods This study used data from the Brain Imaging for Global Health (BRIGHT) study, which recruited pregnant women (n = 223) and followed up moth...
Article
Full-text available
Anorexia nervosa (AN) is associated with difficulties in social and emotional functioning. A significant proportion of individuals with AN show autistic traits, which may influence social attention. This study examined attention to faces and facial features in AN, recovered AN (REC), and healthy controls, as well as relationships with comorbid psyc...
Article
Full-text available
Social-communication (SC) and restricted repetitive behaviors (RRB) are autism diagnostic symptom domains. SC and RRB severity can markedly differ within and between individuals and may be underpinned by different neural circuitry and genetic mechanisms. Modeling SC-RRB balance could help identify how neural circuitry and genetic mechanisms map ont...
Poster
Full-text available
Background: Social attention (SA) has been studied in-depth as a potential biomarker of autism - with autistic individuals showing reduced attention to social stimuli - and eye-tracking has been a favoured approach due to its objective measurement. Recent studies have revealed differences in SA with varying Socioeconomic Scores (SES), however, very...
Presentation
Full-text available
Background: Previous research reports that increased attention towards social stimuli (i.e., Social Attention, SA) in autistic females may modulate exposure to social contingencies, thereby reducing social interaction difficulties and symptom severity. Therefore, heightened SA could relate to specific manifestations of Autism in females, in relatio...
Article
Visual attention plays a key role in infants’ interaction with the environment, and shapes their behavioral and brain development. As such, early problems with flexibly switching gaze from one stimulus to another (visual disengagement) have been hypothesized to lead to developmental difficulties (e.g. joint attention and social skills) over time. T...
Article
Full-text available
The first 1,000 days from conception to two-years of age are a critical period in brain development, and there is an increasing drive for developing technologies to help advance our understanding of neurodevelopmental processes during this time. Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) has enabled longitudinal infant brain function to be studi...
Article
Full-text available
Mapping infant neurocognitive differences that precede later ADHD-related behaviours is critical for designing early interventions. In this study, we investigated (1) group differences in a battery of measures assessing aspects of attention and activity level in infants with and without a family history of ADHD or related conditions (ASD), and (2)...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background ASD and ADHD are prevalent neurodevelopmental disorders that frequently co-occur and have strong evidence for a degree of shared genetic aetiology. Behavioural and neurocognitive heterogeneity in ASD and ADHD has hampered attempts to map the underlying genetics and neurobiology, predict intervention response, and improve diagnostic accur...
Article
Full-text available
Childhood screen time is associated with both attentional difficulties (for television viewing) and benefits (in action video gamers), but few studies have investigated today’s pervasive touchscreen devices (e.g. smartphones and tablets), which combine salient features, interactive content, and accessibility from toddlerhood (a peak period of cogni...
Article
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) likely emerges from a complex interaction between pre-existing neurodevelopmental vulnerabilities and the environment. The interaction with parents forms a key aspect of an infant's social environment, but few prospective studies of infants at elevated likelihood (EL) for ASD (who have an older sibling with ASD) have...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Atypicalities in tactile processing are reported in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) but it remains unknown if they precede and associate with traits of these disorders emerging in childhood. We investigated behavioural and neural markers of tactile sensory processing in infants at eleva...
Article
Full-text available
Identifying developmental endophenotypes on the pathway between genetics and behavior is critical to uncovering the mechanisms underlying neurodevelopmental conditions. In this proof-of-principle study, we explored whether early disruptions in visual attention are a unique or shared candidate endophenotype of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and atte...
Article
Full-text available
Background Socio-communicative difficulties, including abnormalities in eye contact, are core diagnostic features of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Many studies have used eye-tracking to measure reduced attention to faces in autistic people, however, most of this work has not taken advantage of eye-tracking temporal resolution to examine temporal...
Article
Full-text available
Background Children with Down syndrome (DS) are at increased likelihood of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) relative to the general population. To better understand the nature of this comorbidity, we examined the visuo-attentional processes associated with autistic trait expression in children with DS, focusing specifically on attentional disengageme...
Article
Full-text available
Importance: Risk of Alzheimer disease (AD) is particularly high for individuals with Down syndrome (DS). The ε4 allele of the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE ε4) is associated with an additional risk for AD. In typical development, there is evidence that the APOE ε4 genotype is associated with an early cognitive advantage. Here we investigate associat...
Poster
Full-text available
Orienting to others is crucial for learning about the world. Infants show a marked bias for attending to faces, however, we do not know much about the online changes of their attention to faces during the first 3 years. The definition of temporal profiles of attention might help understanding how infants orient to faces at different stages of devel...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Reward processing has been proposed to underpin atypical social behavior, a core feature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, previous neuroimaging studies have yielded inconsistent results regarding the specificity of atypicalities for social rewards in ASD. Utilizing a large sample, we aimed to assess altered reward processing...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Sensory modulation difficulties are common in children with conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and could contribute to other social and non-social symptoms. Positing a causal role for sensory processing differences requires observing atypical sensory reactivity prior to the emergence of other symptoms, which can be achie...
Preprint
Full-text available
Social-communication (SC) and restricted repetitive behaviors (RRB) are autism diagnostic symptom domains. SC and RRB severity can markedly differ within and between individuals and is underpinned by different neural circuitry and genetic mechanisms. Modeling SC-RRB balance could help identify how neural circuitry and genetic mechanisms map onto su...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Visual exploration in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterized by attenuated social attention. The underlying oculomotor function during visual exploration is understudied, whereas oculomotor function during restricted viewing suggested saccade dysmetria in ASD by altered ponto-cerebellar motor modulation. Methods: Oculomotor f...
Article
Full-text available
INTRODUCTION: Infants and children in low- and middle-income countries are frequently exposed to a range of poverty-related risk factors, increasing their likelihood of poor neurodevelopmental outcomes. There is a need for culturally objective markers, which can be used to study infants from birth, thereby enabling early identification and ultimate...
Article
Full-text available
Difficulties in socio-emotional functioning are proposed to contribute to the development and maintenance of anorexia nervosa (AN). This study aimed to examine emotion recognition abilities in individuals in the acute and recovered stages of AN compared to healthy controls (HCs). A second aim was to examine whether attention to faces and comorbid p...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition with key deficits in social functioning. It is widely assumed that the biological underpinnings of social impairment are neurofunctional alterations in the "social brain," a neural circuitry involved in inferring the mental state of a social partner. However, previous evi...
Article
Full-text available
Impaired face processing is proposed to play a key role in the early development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and to be an endophenotypic trait which indexes genetic risk for the disorder. However, no published work has examined the development of face processing abilities from infancy into the school-age years and how they relate to ASD sympt...
Article
Full-text available
Impaired face processing is proposed to play a key role in the early development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and to be an endophenotypic trait which indexes genetic risk for the disorder. However, no published work has examined the development of face processing abilities from infancy into the school-age years and how they relate to ASD sympt...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction. Infants and children in low- and middle-income countries are frequently exposed to a range of poverty-related risk factors, increasing their likelihood of poor neurodevelopmental outcomes. There is a need for culturally objective markers, which can be used to study infants from birth, thereby enabling early identification and ultimate...
Article
Full-text available
Infants and children in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are frequently exposed to a range of environmental risk factors which may negatively affect their neurocognitive development. The mechanisms by which factors such as undernutrition and poverty impact development and cognitive outcomes in early childhood are poorly understood. This lac...
Article
Full-text available
Infants and children in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are frequently exposed to a range of environmental risk factors which may negatively affect their neurocognitive development. The mechanisms by which factors such as undernutrition and poverty impact development and cognitive outcomes in early childhood are poorly understood. This lac...
Article
Full-text available
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects social communication skills and flexible behaviour. Developing new treatment approaches for ASD requires early identification of the factors that influence later behavioural outcomes. One fruitful research paradigm has been the prospective study of infants with a first deg...
Poster
Full-text available
Background The social motivation account of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) stresses the role of decreased social interest as an antecedent of socio-cognitive abnormalities in ASD (Chevallier, Kohls, Troiani et al., 2012). One strong candidate to possibly explain this account is reduced spontaneous social attention (e.g. to the human face and social...