We have been investigating the origins of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), by conducting visual, physiological, genetic and behavioral studies in infants who are at risk for ASD and individuals with ASD.
Current projects include:
1) Sleep Patterns in High-Risk Infants. High-Risk infants are those with an older sibling diagnosed with ASD, which puts them at an elevated risk of developing ASD (~19%) because there is a genetic component to ASD. We track development in these infants with the hope of finding early markers for developing the disorder. In collaboration with Liz Harrison, Ph.D., and Gena Glickman, Ph.D., we are currently funded by the DOD to study sleep and hormonal (melatonin/cortisol) patterns in these infants.
2) Face and Emotional Processing in Individuals with ASD and Typical Individuals with ASD Characteristics. We study visual and emotional processing in individuals with ASD, as well as in the typical population because even “typical” individuals vary in the degree to which they experience ASD-like characteristics (i.e., “everyone is on the spectrum!”). We are currently studying empathy and the ability to discriminate different facial expressions of emotion.