Coevolution of Hominin Social Abilities and Infant Vision have Raised the Specter of Autism and Prevented Delay of Presbyopia

Author(s): Paul Turke


It is proposed that early, intense, visual communication between human infants and their primary caretakers, particularly mother, has been a crucial first step in the development of the complex, sophisticated social abilities that increasingly distinguished evolving hominins from other hominoids. This suggests in turn that aberrations in the development of infant vision might negatively impact the development of social abilities, potentially landing at risk children on the autism spectrum. It is further proposed that genes accumulated by selection because of their positive contribution to the visual abilities of infants often will have downstream negative pleiotropic effects that potentially contribute to presbyopia’s relatively early manifestation, well ahead of senescent decline of most other adaptations.

Available evidence bearing on these twin hypotheses is reviewed, and additional tests are proposed. If they prove to be supportive, new approaches to prevent both autism and presbyopia should follow.

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