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The neuroanatomical basis for face processing deficits in autism spectrum disorder

January 1, 2022 - August 31, 2024

The study of people with new onset face blindness points to a particular brain circuit. We are investigating if this same brain circuit is involved in face recognition difficulty in individuals with autism. If successful, this study may identify new ways to improve face recognition ability.

What are the goals of the study?

Some individuals with autism have difficulties related to face processing and recognition, which can have substantial effects on everyday life. For this study, we hope to figure out where these face processing difficulties arise in the brain. This research could help us provide targets for treatment and could aid in the development of biomarkers for future detection.

What will happen during the visit or online?

The study involves one virtual visit and one visit to Boston Children’s Hospital. The first study visit will involve a series of computer activities designed to measure face processing and should last around 2 hours. The second study visit will involve an MRI, during which the participant will complete additional face processing tasks. This second visit may last up to 3 hours. In between these two visits, we will also share a link to some questionnaires to be completed online by the participant and a caregiver.

How will this help families?

It may lead to new treatments for face recognition difficulties which may help social development.

Eligibility Criteria

1) 15-18 years old
2) Fluent comprehension and verbally-fluent in English
3) IQ greater than 70
4) either have a pre-existing clinical ASD diagnosis (for the autism group) or do not have ASD (for the non-autism group)
5) No clinical diagnosis other than autism (e.g. no diagnosis of ADHD, Depression, or Anxiety for either group)
6)Able to complete an MRI scan (without sedation)
7) No known visual impairment preventing test administration
8) No history of seizures or concussion

View the study flyer here.

Contact Information
Research Study Website
Boston Children’s Hospital

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