The neuroanatomical basis for face processing deficits in autism spectrum disorder

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.

This is the first study to consider the neural indices of cognitive inflexibility in autism. Since cognitive inflexibility is related to core autism features, we hope that findings from this project will support the field’s goal to inform prevention and treatment interventions to inform personalized interventions that address specific outcomes.

What are the goals of the study?

This study seeks to examine core behavioral and neural presentations associated with cognitive inflexibility (CI) in both autistic and non-autistic youth. The current project is also aimed at validating specific neural indices associated with CI and better understand links between neural indices and behavioral presentations of CI. This study will further examine relations of CI to core autism symptoms (i.e., social communication deficits and RRBs), as well as co-occurring psychopathology that cause significant impairment.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Participants will complete behavioral assessments (ADOS, DKEFS, EFCT), cognitive assessment (KBIT), an EEG task, and self-report measures. Parents will also complete parent-report measures.

How will this help families?

Upon request, the research team will provide a research report of all assessment results (including ADOS) that can be shared with other service providers, schools, etc.

This study will look at how our participant’s sensory processing changes as they develop into adolescents. This is an important period of growth and can greatly inform us about what changes the brain undergoes during this time, something that can be useful for future studies.

What are the goals of the study?

A primary goal of the study is to understand how sensory processing develops over adolescence. We hope to identify neurobiological mechanisms related to sensory over-responsiveness (SOR) with the goal of informing the development of targeted interventions.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Participants will complete an MRI as well as some sensory games and questionnaires. There are some short cognitive assessments done to confirm eligibility for the study.

How will this help families?

Our study provides research reports to families describing their child’s sensory processing abilities in relation to their peers. This research may also help inform future research into treatment for sensory over-responsiveness (SOR)

We still know too little about the basis of social cognition (emotions, thinking about others, interacting with others) in the brain to explain variations in people’s behavior (e.g., among allistic and autistic people). This study aims at helping us understand mechanisms in the brain better and connect them to relevant social behavior in people. If you are interested you can chose which parts of the study you want to participate in (from computer tasks, to questionnaires to brain scans).

What are the goals of the study?

This study aims at investigating the basis of human social cognition in behavior, brain function, and structure. One population with difficulties navigating our social world is autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Studying atypical processing in populations such as those with ASD, is thus of paramount value to social cognition. By studying both healthy and impaired social functioning, this study aims at advancing a mechanistic understanding of social cognition in behavior, brain function and brain structure.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Participants will be invited to participate in one or more of our ongoing experiments in this study to study social cognition in brain and behavior. The study consists of a research brain scan (MRI) and simple behavioral tasks and questionnaires assessing social behavior. The study will consist of multiple sessions each not exceeding 3 hours, with the time between sessions varying from one day (minimum) to a maximum of one year.

How will this help families?

The research may help in our understanding of how the brain functions to generate and process social behavior, and will provide insights on how mental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder, may affect social cognition This information may expand our knowledge of these socio-cognitive processes and may have future implications for diagnosis and treatment of future patients. Participants (and families) do not receive any direct benefits from the study (other than compensation for research participation).

By learning more about how the ASD brain in children, we can help establish ways to identify and intervene in ASD early. If ASD is identified at young ages, resources such as social supports can bolster long-term adaptive functioning in children with ASD. Also, increased understanding about the mechanisms that underlie atypical social functioning in ASD will allow science to develop targeted, effective assistance for these youth as early as possible.

What are the goals of the study?

This project aims to further understand what makes the brains of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) unique. Specifically, this study is interested in helping us understand how neural processes in the developing ASD brain contribute to atypical social functioning. A promising new method of assessing brain activity called “phase-amplitude coupling” will be measured via non-invasive electroencephalogram (EEG) technology.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Both children who do and do not have ASD will be invited to participate in an EEG, play computer games during the EEG, and fill out self-report questionnaires with the help of a trained researcher. Parents of participating children will also fill out related surveys. This study is comprised of two visits spaced out over several months.

How will this help families?

Increased understanding about the mechanisms that underlie atypical social functioning in ASD will allow science to develop targeted, effective assistance for these youth as early as possible.

What are the goals of the study?

Researchers from Rutgers University are recruiting children/adults and their parents or caregivers for a research study assessing the utility of a diagnostic interview for autism evaluations.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Children/adults will complete questionnaires (if able) and one 2-3 hour diagnostic evaluation. Parents/caregivers will complete questionnaires and two 2-4 hour interviews. A 1-hour feedback session to review test results.

How will this help families?

Families who complete the study will receive a brief written summary of results from their assessment and a $75 gift card.

This study is important because it can provide new understandings of social mechanisms in autistic individuals, a largely under-investigated area of autism. It might also have long term impact and clinical utility as results might inform better knowledge about social space in autism, which may lead to better behavioral interventions and therapies to assist autistic individuals in their qualities of life. At the same time, participation in this study culminates in participants receiving testing reports of evaluations that generally can cost upwards of $1000-2000 for free.

What are the goals of the study?

The overall goal of the study is to understand differences in neural computations of social interactions in autism using dynamic tasks and neuroimaging methods.

What will happen during the visit or online?

It involves 2-3 in person visits for EEG, MRI tasks, and clinical assessments, as well as remote surveys and clinical assessments. You will be compensated $20 an hour for your time, which should be about $150 in total.

How will this help families?

Help to better understand the social brain and phenotype of autism in order to provide new insights into treatment targets.

Through this study, the SENSE Lab hopes to learn more about the unique and challenging process of puberty in females with ASD and provide information to families and caretakers in order to make the transition from childhood to adulthood easier. This study aims to understand and track puberty in females with and without ASD so clinicians are able to provide meaningful approaches and interventions in the future during this critical time period.

What are the goals of the study?

The mission of the SENSE (Social Emotional NeuroScience Endocrinology) Lab is to better understand the social and emotional functioning of youth autism and to translate findings into meaningful approaches and interventions. Significant physical, psychological, hormonal and social changes occur during pubertal development. Adolescence may be uniquely challenging for girls especially those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The goal of our study of girls with autism or typical development is to promote, understand, build, enrich, respect, and track youth.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Participants will come to Vanderbilt University Medical Center once a year for four years. Each visit includes a physical exam, blood draw, brief psychological exam, brief social interaction, and EEG. Participants will be expected to take saliva samples at home prior to study visits and complete menstrual tracking surveys.

How will this help families?

This study will help provide vital information regarding puberty in females with ASD and help families further understand the unique timing and tempo of puberty in autistic females. In addition to study compensation, families will receive annual research letters of standardized measure results and an annual symposia on topics related to pubertal development and ASD will be provided for families. We aim to be available to families for questions and concerns relevant to the focus of the study; namely, adolescence, puberty, and mental health. If developmental needs arise, our multidisciplinary team will do our best to provide support.

The Autism Biomarkers Consortium for Clinical Trials (ABC-CT) is a multicenter research study led by Yale that also includes Duke University, Boston Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles , and the University of Washington/Seattle Children’s Research Institute. The aim of the consortium is to develop reliable and objective measurements of social function and communication in children on the autism spectrum.

What are the goals of the study?

The aim of the consortium is to develop reliable and objective measurements of social function and communication in children on the autism spectrum.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Caregivers will complete a screening phone call and questionnaires about their child. Children will complete in-person study visits at Boston Children’s Hospital over a 6 month period. Scheduling is flexible including weekends.

How will this help families?

Currently, ASD is diagnosed and treated based on information gathered from clinical assessments and parent questionnaires. ABC-CT will add to this pool of knowledge by developing a more objective battery of tools to measure social function.

Our team hopes to identify how electroencephalography (EEG) measures taken at the first study visit relate to language acquisition and language ability one year later. Similar studies have focused on adolescents or adults, and only a handful have investigated brain activity in young children.

What are the goals of the study?

Researchers in the Labs of Cognitive Neuroscience at Boston Children’s Hospital are recruiting children with and without a diagnosis of ASD between 2 and 5 years old. This study is investigating how differences in brain activity affect learning, language, and behavior in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

What will happen during the visit or online?

Participation in this study entails 2 visits, each one year apart, at the Labs of Cognitive Neuroscience at Boston Children’s Hospital. Each visit includes clinical and behavioral assessments that will evaluate your child’s thinking, motor skills, language skills, and social communication. In addition, we will measure your child’s brain activity using electroencephalography (EEG).

How will this help families?

The information gathered through this study has the potential to help inform future treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders. In addition, families will receive a written report of the completed language and cognitive assessments after each study visit.

This program supports data collection and sharing that will expand and improve medical research. By generating the most comprehensive Data Collection Program for these conditions, we can increase research and accelerate the development of new drugs, devices, or other therapies. Participating families will also have the ability to connect with other patient organizations, be contacted to participate in emerging clinical trials (if eligible), and manage how their data is used.

What are the goals of the study?

The RARE-X Data Collection Program makes data collection free, accessible and easy for communities, while ensuring the data collected is as useful and shareable as possible for researchers and others working on treatments. Our goal is to enable families to easily collect and access their data and empower them to become data stewards and sharers. This program helps create a robust data set that can be shared to accelerate diagnosis, disorder understanding, and drug and therapy development.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Participants will be asked to create a secure, password-protected account and provide their consent to participate. Participants will then have the chance to answer a set of questions (survey) regarding the patient’s health history, development, and treatment and care. Additional surveys will be added over time and participants will be notified of future surveys relevant to them. Participants will also have the opportunity to upload genetic test results related to the disorder diagnosis.

How will this help families?

Participation in this program may…

  • Contribute to further research leading to the development of treatments
  • Provide patients the opportunity to participate in clinical trials
  • Help you learn more about the disorder, leading to better advocacy in medical, education, and social services
  • Inform patients/families about the progression of the disorder and how they may compare with other patients

The information we receive from healthy, typically developing children, teens, and adults could help us learn more information about the characteristics associated with 3q29 syndromes. The information we learn from our control group comparison utilizing MRI scans will help us gain insight into how the brain processes social information to 3q29 syndromes that are associated with increased risk for several developmental disabilities. As a token of our appreciation, participates can receive a monetary compensation of $50 for the MRI scans, $15 for MRI training, a souvenir picture of yours or your child’s brain, and feedback about your child’s performance from the clinical assessments.

What are the goals of the study?

This study is part of a larger medical research study to help us learn more about how the brain functions, especially when processing social information. We will do this by using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The information we learn from healthy, typically developing individuals will help us to understand the characteristics associated with 3q29 syndromes, which are rare genetic disorders that are associated with increased risk for developmental disabilities including autism, intellectual disability, learning disabilities, epilepsy, and schizophrenia.

What will happen during the visit or online?

The study will take place at the Marcus Autism Center and our imaging center, which is located at Wesley Woods on the Emory Campus. Participants will be asked to receive training on what to expect during an MRI scan, watch videos while resting in the MRI scanner, and receive clinical assessments which involve completing games and activities related to language and thought.

How will this help families?

Our mission is to learn more about 3q29 Deletion Syndrome and 3q29 Duplication Syndrome, and improve the quality of care for individuals with this diagnosis. Because the 3q29 Deletion and 3q29 Duplication are so rare, it is difficult for medical practitioners, families, and individuals to know what to expect. Our goal is to create a resource for families and professionals to address this gap in knowledge.