Monday, October 15, 2018 - 1:00pm to 2:00pm
The young but rapidly growing field of autism studies is generating a steady stream of fundamental questions about the development of brain connectivity before and after birth. Kevin Pelphrey is looking at some of these questions through new lenses.
First, he is focusing on an understudied population, girls who are on the autism spectrum. The rarity and different nature of girls’ experience with autism raises particular questions: Might autistic girls carry a higher load of genetic mutations, or could their disorder involve an outside factor such as an immune response? Second, he is beginning to gather genomic, medical and developmental data on a wide population of newborns, making it possible to follow children from before birth through adolescence and test a number of ideas about autism. Pelphrey will report on new studies that not only might improve the success rate of interventions but also should help scientists understand how the process of growing and pruning neural connections works in the developing fetus and newborn.