Eye-tracking In-person Research

In this study, we will present a series of validated eye tracking paradigms (e.g., images of faces, videos of social interactions) while we monitor eye movements and physiological arousal. Two research assistants will also collect behavioral reports of ASD and ADHD symptoms from 8-12 years old participants. These data will allow us to examine how and if eye movements, arousal, and questionnaire outcomes differ between children with ASD and ADHD. By combining eye tracking/arousal measures and behavioral assessments, we will then draft a map of how these social cognitive traits manifest in eye movements.

What are the goals of the study?

The primary aim of this study is to test the utility of a social cognitive battery incorporating psychophysiological measures to differentiate between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

What will happen during the visit or online?

A brief telephone screening will be conducted to determine if the child and family are interested in the study. Then, a research team member will schedule a time for the family to come into the lab for approximately 90 minutes. Prior to the visit, parents will be asked to send a copy of a recent diagnostic assessment to confirm diagnosis. During the visit, the participant will come to our lab with their parent. Upon completion of the consent and assent, cognitive screener will be conducted first to the child and then the eye tracking tasks will be administered using the Eyelink 1000. We will ask the child to sit in front of a computer screen, and we will be showing the child some videos and images while the computer will track the child’s physiological response and their eye movements. Parent and caregivers will complete a few questionnaires by the time. Upon completion of all measures, the participant will be given a $20 gift card for their time.

How will this help families?

Families will receive a feedback summary compiling information regarding their responses on questionnaires, including the Conners, SRS, and CBCL. Families will learn about their children’s current condition in behavior performances and cognitive development. If requested by contacting the lab via phone or email (or indicating during the study visit), a 15 minute phone feedback session will be scheduled for the parents with the PI, clinical psychologist, to discuss the results from the questionnaires. This will also offer the PI a chance to address any other questions the parents may have. Participants will also be compensated $20 for their time.

Dr. Eggebrecht and researchers at Washington University in St. Louis are mapping brain function in children with autism spectrum disorder with diffuse optical tomography.

What are the goals of the study?

Dr. Eggebrecht and researchers at Washington University in St. Louis aim to investigate brain function underlying development in children who have or are at risk for developing Autism Spectrum Disorder.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Children will complete a 1-hour brain imaging scan and developmental testing at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Parents will complete online and phone surveys from home. Families will be compensated $25/hour for their participation.

How will this help families?

We hope that, in the future, society may benefit from study results which increase our understanding of typical and altered development of brain function. We hope that in the future, optical imaging will complement the current brain imaging technologies in the management of a variety of patient populations.

The genetic changes we study in TIGER3 have been connected with autism and developmental disabilities, but we are just beginning to learn how those changes might affect each person and family differently, and what effects might be shared versus unique across those genetic variants. By learning more about the shared and unique effects of these rare variants, we aim to contribute to (1) better understanding of co-occurring medical and behavioral conditions, and (2) development of individualized supports for affected individuals and their families.

What are the goals of the study?

In the TIGER research study, we are learning more about individuals with genetic events associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), intellectual disability (ID), and/or developmental delay (DD). We hope to better understand and describe how different gene changes influence the development, behavior, and experiences of children and adults. Individuals with these genetic changes may have neurodevelopmental differences that we would like to better understand.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Eligible families participate in a consent phone call, and are then invited to complete a series of video- or phone calls to assess for autism-associated features, adaptive skills, cognitive skills, and medical history. Caregivers are also invited to complete a variety of online questionnaires, including measures of adaptive behavior, treatment history, sleep habits, gastrointestinal symptoms, social-emotional functioning, and executive function. Biospecimen (blood or saliva) collection is completed remotely. Finally, families are offered a feedback session with a clinician and a written report of standardized measures and recommendations.

How will this help families?

Families will be compensated $100 for their participation. Participants may receive feedback about their family’s genetic event(s). Families will also receive written and/or verbal feedback regarding adaptive behavior, social communication skills, language skills, and cognitive skills as available from completed study activities.

Researchers at Deakin University are seeking participants for an online study investigating how and why personality traits, characteristics, and behaviours associated with autism and anorexia are related.

What are the goals of the study?

We are doing this research because there is evidence that autism and anorexia might overlap, and we want to understand this overlap better. Better understanding of factors that contribute to the overlap between autism and anorexia will help us to better detect these conditions and offer appropriate support to those who require it.

What will happen during the visit or online?

If you choose to participate in this study, you will be invited to complete an online survey and computerised tasks. The study will take approximately 1 hour to complete, and upon completion, participants will go into the draw to win one of 10 AUD$150 gift cards.

How will this help families?

Improving understanding of these disorders will help us identify appropriate support for individuals with autism and improve clinical practice.

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.

SOR is highly prevalent in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), causing discomfort and stress, impacting daily life.

What are the goals of the study?

The goal of the study is to see what effects transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has on neurobiological mechanisms underlying sensory over-responsiveness (SOR) in individuals with autism.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Participants will undergo MRI and TMS as well as answer online questionnaires.

How will this help families?

To date there a few treatments for SOR and TMS could be a treatment that ends up dramatically improving the quality of life of ASD individuals and their families.

SOR is a highly prevalent feature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). SOR can be highly disruptive yet there are few treatments to deal with this discomfort. This study can validate a readily available medication to be used as a treatment for SOR.

What are the goals of the study?

The goal of the study is to examine the short-term effect of propranolol on observed sensory over-responsiveness (SOR) behaviors. The study will also look at biomarkers (heart rate, sweat response, neural activity) associated with a SOR response to characterize the effect of propranolol.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Participants will take medication at two time points and then complete an MRI and sensory games. Families are also asked to complete questionnaires as part of the study. Short cognitive assessments may be completed to confirm eligibility for the study.

How will this help families?

Participating in this study will allow families to see if propranolol is an effective intervention for SOR and can help with discomfort or distress associated with it. This study can also lead to clinical trials aimed at finding more treatments for ASD individuals with SOR.

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.

Social interaction during early childhood is a critical component of development. This project explores these interactions during play among children with and without autism spectrum disorder to better understand how children learn to engage with their environment and the people around them. The results of this project may lend itself to improving early screening, diagnosis, and intervention processes for young children with autism spectrum disorder and their families.

What are the goals of the study?

The goal of this project is to explore the early visual experiences of children during social play with their parents and how these interactions may influence different aspects of their development, such as language and cognition.

What will happen during the visit or online?

You and your child will be asked to play with a set of toys for approximately 5 minutes while wearing head-mounted eye-trackers. Depending on your child’s age, your child will also be asked to complete: the ADOS-2 (a gold-standard autism diagnostic test; 12mo and older), an IQ test (12mo and older), a motor assessment (18mo or younger), and/or two vocabulary tests (30mo or older).

How will this help families?

Families will receive a free summary of their child’s assessment results (autism diagnosis, vocabulary, motor skills, and/or Q) along with an Amazon gift card, family passes to the Children’s Museum of Houston, and a gift-bundle (toys, books, crayons, T-shirt, etc). We hope this project will ultimately assist in improving early screening, diagnosis, and intervention processes for infants and toddlers that may have autism spectrum disorder.