Target brain disease(s): Autism Spectrum Disorders
Project goal: Use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to identify features of the brain, such as neural signatures or biomarkers, to help diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
Project description: Autism spectrum disorders are complex disorders of brain development that cause lifelong difficulties in social ability and language. These disorders affect about 1 in 150 individuals, and can result in significant intellectual disability. Since there are no medical tests to determine these disorders, diagnosis is based on behavioral evaluations administered by physicians or psychologists. By using MRI to take detailed measurements of the size, shape, and thickness of different parts of the brain, this research intends to identify a neural signature or biomarker to aid in the diagnosis of ASD. Such findings also could reveal subtypes of the disorder that enable the discovery of more targeted medical and behavioral treatments. The researchers are also examining the chemical composition of brain tissue to get a better understanding of what processes may go awry in autism spectrum disorders. The ultimate goal is to advance public health by enabling strategies for prevention, early detection, and personalized treatment of autism spectrum disorders.
Funding: Received $130,000 in research funds.