The impact of sex chromosome trisomies (XXX, XXY, XYY) on gaze towards faces and affect recognition: a cross-sectional eye tracking study

J Neurodev Disord. 2022 Aug 2;14(1):44. doi: 10.1186/s11689-022-09453-x.


Background: About 1:650-1000 children are born with an extra X or Y chromosome (47,XXX; 47,XXY; 47,XYY), which results in a sex chromosome trisomy (SCT). This international cross-sectional study was designed to investigate gaze towards faces and affect recognition during early life of children with SCT, with the aim to find indicators for support and treatment.

Methods: A group of 101 children with SCT (aged 1-7 years old; Mage= 3.7 years) was included in this study, as well as a population-based sample of 98 children without SCT (Mage= 3.7). Eye gaze patterns to faces were measured using an eye tracking method that quantifies first fixations and fixation durations on eyes of static faces and fixation durations on eyes and faces in a dynamic paradigm (with two conditions: single face and multiple faces). Affect recognition was measured using the subtest Affect Recognition of the NEPSY-II neuropsychological test battery. Recruitment and assessment took place in the Netherlands and the USA.

Results: Eye tracking results reveal that children with SCT show lower proportion fixation duration on faces already from the age of 3 years, compared to children without SCT. Also, impairments in the clinical range for affect recognition were found (32.2% of the SCT group scored in the well below average range).

Conclusions: These results highlight the importance to further explore the development of social cognitive skills of children with SCT in a longitudinal design, the monitoring of affect recognition skills, and the implementation of (preventive) interventions aiming to support the development of attention to social important information and affect recognition.

Keywords: Affect recognition; Eye gaze to faces; Eye tracking; Sex chromosome trisomies; Young children.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Eye-Tracking Technology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Recognition, Psychology
  • Sex Chromosomes
  • Trisomy*