Autism Speaks and Royal Arch Masons fund two new research projects on auditory processing disorder

May 27, 2020

Autism Speaks, with the support of a Royal Arch Research Assistance grant, is funding a new pilot study and a predoctoral fellowship for researchers studying central auditory processing disorder and sound-processing difficulties. 

Royal Arch Masons International ranks among the leading charities helping children with central auditory processing disorder (CAPD). The disorder can lead to difficulty using, understanding and remembering information conveyed through speech and other sounds. 

“CAPD is a major communication and learning challenge that affects many people with autism, and Royal Arch Masons are longstanding supporters of research that can help uncover new solutions,” said Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Thomas Frazier.  

The one-year pilot study will be funded at $60,000, while the predoctoral fellowship will be funded at $40,000 per year for two years. 

Tessa-Jonne Ropp
, Ph.D., University of North Carolina   

Tessa-Jonne Ropp, Ph.D., University of North Carolina  

Communication deficits in autism linked to central auditory axonal dysfunction      

This mouse study will explore the effect of potassium channels in certain neurons on auditory processing. Using a variation of the CNTNAP2 gene, which is associated with human communication deficits, specifically language-processing impairments, which are common in people with autism, as well as behavioral measures of auditory temporal processing. Researchers will be looking for evidence that potassium channels are linked to dysfunction of these language-processing networks in mice with this genetic variant and test whether pharmacological interventions can influence these channels and the resulting auditory processing dysfunction. Ultimately, this study will identify if pharmacological treatments can improve hearing deficits in the central auditory system. 

Predoctoral Fellowship 

Bosi Chen, San Diego State University 

Bosi Chen, San Diego State University     

Organization of auditory cortex and its links to language outcomes in young children with ASD 

Children with autism often differ in how they process auditory information. One theory attributes these differences to how auditory networks are organized in the brain. This research project will explore whether deficits in auditory processing and sound sensitivity in autism are related to how these networks develop in people with autism. Researchers will map the related networks in children with autism, using brain scans collected during toddler years and again at ages 6-7 years, and link them with language outcomes and autism symptoms. 

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