The proposal represents an emerging area of computational cognitive neuroscience. It addresses an important issues of how brain learns, and specifically, how learning occurs in fusiform face area (FFA). The claim that the neural information for face processing is located in FFA, recently came under increasing scrutiny, and it needs further investigation using computation neuroscience and high resolution fMRI methodology. This proposal combines high resolution imaging with comprehensive feature selection method to examine the way face stimuli are represented in brain tissue of both neuro-typical and individuals with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).
The specific goal of the proposal is to examine cortical representational differences in individuals with ASD and neuro-typicals with a focus on face diagnostic brain areas (e.g., FFA). Both groups of subjects will attempt to learn the same face orientation task in order to establish any behavioral deficits while their brain scans will be collected. The problems of ASD individual difficulties in learning of face responses are currently not well understood. The current proposal can provide significant insights into the neural substrates of autism, and specifically into the issue of selectivity of FFA and its role in autistic disorder.