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Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC)
Autism Research Database
Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC)
 
Project Element Element Description

Project Title

Project Title

FUNDAMENTAL VISUAL REPRESENTATIONS AND SOCIAL COGNITION IN ASD

Principal Investigator

Principal Investigator

Foxe, John

Description

Description

A prominent symptom of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is impairments in social interactions, which often are readily apparent in how individuals on the spectrum look at or interact with their counterparts during a conversation. However, there is also evidence that eye movements are less accurate in entirely non-social situations. Since eye movements define what we see and the brain adapts to its input, we hypothesized that some people with an ASD would have altered representations of their visual environment. And indeed, brain responses to stimuli presented just off the center of gaze were stronger in children and adolescents with an ASD. The hypothesis of this research project is that these changes in visual processing will be related to difficulties in social interactions. Thus far, different research lines have examined social interaction, visual perception, and eye movements in ASD independently, and results suggest that individuals on the spectrum exhibit atypicalities in all of these domains, but there are considerable differences between individuals. The current project examines whether deficits in these different domains are related and therefore aims at understanding factors underlying the heterogeneity of clinical expression of ASD. This research project is very innovative as it brings together different lines of autism research and examines whether there are relationships between them. A novel combination of different research methods ranging from functional magnetic imaging to measures of eye-movement accuracy and social interaction skills is devised to obtain a very comprehensive assay of functioning in these domains in individuals with an ASD. To our knowledge, such an integrative approach has never been used before. The proposed study is the first to examine the relation between atypicalities in eye-movement control and visual perception as well as social deficits in ASD. If it turns out that these constructs are related, and we believe this is likely, it would provide an avenue to use simple eye-movement training in order to improve atypicalities of gaze in individuals with ASD. Improved eye-movement control should affect visual processing, which in turn should influence social interaction. Such eye-movement training could complement existing social training techniques. Of course, it is impossible to infer directionality from a correlative measure, but it seems considerably more likely that low-level perception influences complex behaviors than the other way around. If low-level perceptual measures are not related to social deficits, then this study will provide valuable information about a condition co-occurring with ASD. For example, it allows us to examine whether the magnitude of eye-movement deficit relates directly to the changes in visual processing. Therefore, this study will lead to important insights about autism and the heterogeneity of its representation.

Funder

Funder

Department of Defense - Army

Fiscal Year Funding

Fiscal Year Funding

158000

Current Award Period

Current Award Period

2014-2016

Strategic Plan Question

Strategic Plan Question

Question 1: When Should I Be Concerned?

Strategic Plan Objective

Strategic Plan Objective

Yellow dot: Objective has some degree of funding, but less than the recommended amount. 1LB. Develop at least five measures of behavioral and/or biological heterogeneity in children or adults with ASD, beyond variation in intellectual disability, that clearly relate to etiology and risk, treatment response and/or outcome by 2015. IACC Recommended Budget: $71,100,000 over 5 years.

Project Link

Project Link

FUNDAMENTAL VISUAL REPRESENTATIONS AND SOCIAL COGNITION IN ASD (External web link)

Institution

Institution

Albert Einsteign College of Medicine Yeshiva University

State/Country

State/Country

New York

Project Number

Project Number

AR130413

Federal or Private?

Federal or Private?

Federal

Received ARRA Funding?

Received ARRA Funding?

No

History/Related Projects

History/Related Projects

FUNDAMENTAL VISUAL REPRESENTATIONS AND SOCIAL COGNITION IN ASD | 0 | 2015 | AR130413
FUNDAMENTAL VISUAL REPRESENTATIONS AND SOCIAL COGNITION IN ASD | 0 | 2014 | AR130413

 
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