Project Detail
Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) logo
Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC) logo

Pupil size and circadian salivary variations in autism spectrum disorder  

Atypical baseline levels of autonomic activity and sleep difficulties have been previously reported in persons with autism and indicate a heightened level of sympathetic activity. This project seeks to determine the neurochemical systems involved in producing atypical autonomic responses in children with autism. In this study, researchers will measure circadian rhythms of cortisol and alpha-amylase and their relationship to tonic pupil size in two to five year old children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These measures will be taken on two separate days on a group of 20 children with a diagnosed ASD, 20 children with Down syndrome, and 20 typically-developing children. The determination of the neurochemical component responsible for atypical autonomic responses could lead to identification of a neural impairment in autism that is potentially primary to other impairments and could lead to pharmacological and/or behavioral interventions targeted at preventing this impairment from causing a cascade of effects. If successful, the development of non-invasive autonomic and salivary measures could also provide easy-to-use markers for screening and detecting autism at a very early age. Project Status


Funder National Institutes of Health
Fiscal Year Funding $70,138.00
Project Number 1R03MH084061-01A1
Principal Investigator Colombo, John
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 1: When Should I Be Concerned? (Diagnosis)
Strategic Plan Objective Green dot: Objective has greater than or equal to the recommended funding. 1LA. Identify behavioral and biological markers that separately, or in combination, accurately identify, before age 2, one or more subtypes of children at risk for developing ASD by 2014. IACC Recommended Budget: $33,300,000 over 5 years.
Federal or Private? Federal
Institution University of Kansas
State/Country Kansas
Web Link 1 Pupil size and circadian salivary variations in autism spectrum disorder (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
History/Related Projects Pupil size and circadian salivary variations in autism spectrum disorder | $70,035.00 | 2010 | 5R03MH084061-02