Neurophysiology training in autism research: Basic to clinical
University of Washington
Using sensitive electrophysiological measures, previous research has found that children with autism do not respond properly to sounds repeated in succession. This finding has profound implications for how such children process verbal communication during critical periods of social and language development. This research will develop a set of electrophysiological measures that can be used to directly compare brain activity in children with autism with brain activity observed in animal models. In the process, it will train a pre-doctoral fellow to bridge the gap between the basic and clinical neuroscience in autism research. The fellow will primarily focus on recording of electrical activity in the rat auditory cortex during rapid processing of auditory sounds. He will also work with Dr. Timothy Roberts at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, observing children with autism performing the same tasks while being measured with magnetoencephalography (MEG). This will allow him to relate measurements in rats directly to activities of the primary auditory cortex in children with autism. What this means for people with autism: Findings from these experiments will allow researchers to relate invasive electrophysiological recordings in the rodent brain to noninvasive magnetoencephalographic recordings in children with diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders. Providing an interdisciplinary research environment will allow Mr. Rodrigues exposure to a research training environment which will stress the need for translating animal models to human diseases.