Adapting Biomarker Assays for Profound Autism

Individuals with profound autism have been historically underrepresented in research. Though profoundly autistic individuals make up roughly 27 percent of the ASD population, they represent only a small portion of research participants. Consequently, research findings in the field underrepresent profoundly autistic individuals. One of the most significant reasons for this underrepresentation is the need for research participants to follow spoken or written instructions and maintain engagement with a task. In this project researchers will test a novel interactive experimental delivery system that helps people participate in research without needing to understand complex instructions. The experiment uses computer vision systems that reward participants for sitting still and attending, rather than asking a participant to sit quietly and attend to a computer screen without incentive. Using this method, researchers will study two promising biomarkers, the balance of neural activity in the brain using electroencephalography (EEG) (which is associated with sensory sensitivity), and arousal using pupil diameter (which is associated with symptoms like disordered sleep and aggression). The goal is to develop a novel system for including profoundly autistic individuals in research.


Adam Naples