Brain activity and behaviours in pre-school children

Autism Policies

This is the first study to track how pre-school children with and without autism develop over time and across Europe.

It aims to identify biomarkers that can be used to predict how children with autism will develop and which children may develop  co-occurring conditions, such as ADHD or epilepsy. The study also aims to identify which children may benefit from early support for communication, language and sensory processing.

The study is called the Pre-School Brain Imaging and Behaviour Project (PIP). It will involve children aged two to three years old and will follow them for around three years. First, the study will gather baseline data on the children’s behaviour, brain development and activity, and temperament. Next, it will track the children as they grow, recording whether autistic features become more or less severe and who develops co-occurring conditions. The researchers will then look back at the baseline data to link what they know about each child at the age of say six years old, with what they knew about the child three years earlier. This will help them to identify any factors, or biomarkers, that could be identified at an early age and which predict future development. 

Researchers will focus on the core symptoms of autism, including sensory processing and social communication difficulties, while also considering co-occurring neurodevelopmental and mental health problems such as ADHD, intellectual disability, anxiety and depression. They aim to link differences in brain development with differences in cognitive and social behaviours, and to explore whether particular symptoms of autism become better or worse across the pre-school years. 

Leaders of the PIP study

Name: Pre-School Brain Imaging and Behaviour Project (PIP)
Lead organisation: King’s College London 
Lead: Dr Eva Loth
Principle Investigators: Dr Eva Loth, Prof Jan Buitelaar, Prof Declan Murphy, Dr Terje Falck-Ytter, Prof Sven Bölte, Prof Herbert Roeyers, Prof Richard Delorme
Research Centres: King’s College London, Radboud University, Karolinska Institute, University of Ghent, Paris University Hospitals Assistante Publique des Hôpitaux de Paris-APHP