From CNTNAP2 to early expressive language in infancy: The mediation role of rapid auditory processing

Valentina Riva, Chiara Cantiani, April A. Benasich, Massimo Molteni, Caterina Piazza, Roberto Giorda, Ginette Dionne, Cecilia Marino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although it is clear that early language acquisition can be a target of CNTNAP2, the pathway between gene and language is still largely unknown. This research focused on the mediation role of rapid auditory processing (RAP). We tested RAP at 6 months of age by the use of event-related potentials, as a mediator between common variants of the CNTNAP2 gene (rs7794745 and rs2710102) and 20-month-old language outcome in a prospective longitudinal study of 96 Italian infants. The mediation model examines the hypothesis that language outcome is explained by a sequence of effects involving RAP and CNTNAP2. The ability to discriminate spectrotemporally complex auditory frequency changes at 6 months of age mediates the contribution of rs2710102 to expressive vocabulary at 20 months. The indirect effect revealed that rs2710102 C/C was associated with lower P3 amplitude in the right hemisphere, which, in turn, predicted poorer expressive vocabulary at 20 months of age. These findings add to a growing body of literature implicating RAP as a viable marker in genetic studies of language development. The results demonstrate a potential developmental cascade of effects, whereby CNTNAP2 drives RAP functioning that, in turn, contributes to early expressive outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2100-2018
Number of pages9
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Early language acquisition
  • Infants
  • Mediation
  • Rapid auditory processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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