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

Psychobiological investigation of the socioemotional functioning in autism  

Autism is currently widely viewed as a spectrum disorder with affected individuals having varying degrees of social and emotional disturbances. This project entails a new conceptualization of autism in order to account for some of the heterogeneity. For this research, a neuroendocrine spectrum model is proposed in which aspects of emotional reactivity, social responsiveness and biological indices intersect to define distinct subtypes. The investigation involves three interrelated studies of socioemotional functioning utilizing several methods of analysis, including the assessment of biological markers of emotional arousal and stress, sophisticated behavioral observational techniques, and functional neuroimaging, in order to carefully explore the psychobiological profiles of children with and without autism. Specifically, during peer interactions of a playground activity, sophisticated behavioral observation will be obtained to evaluate the frequency, duration and interactive sequences exhibited by children with autism. These data will be analyzed with stress hormones to uncover relationships between behavioral and biological symptom profiles. In addition, brain activation patterns in these children will be explored while they play games with different computer and human partners. It is anticipated that this comprehensive study of "real world" social interactions will elucidate meaningful associations between the child's behavior, biological profiles and brain activity before, during and after play with peers. The ultimate goal is that these results will better inform understanding of autism to provide individualized biological and behavioral treatments. Project Status


Funder National Institutes of Health
Fiscal Year Funding $348,750.00
Current Award Period 2010-2015
Project Number 1R01MH085717-01A2
Principal Investigator Corbett, Blythe
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 2: How Can I Understand What Is Happening? (Biology)
Subcategory Subgroups/Biosignatures
Strategic Plan Objective 2O. Not specific to Question 2 objectives
Federal or Private? Federal
Institution Vanderbilt University
State/Country Tennessee
Web Link 1 Psychobiological investigation of the socioemotional functioning in autism (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
History/Related Projects N/A