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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

Reliability of Sensory-Evoked Activity in Autism Spectrum Disorders- Project 1

Principal Investigator

Principal Investigator

Behrmann, Marlene

Description

Description

David Heeger, André Fenton and Robert Froemke of New York University, in collaboration with Marlene Behrmann of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, are investigating the possibility that generic, brain-wide circuit malfunctions lie at the root of autism spectrum disorders. They posit that if we understood these malfunctions better, both diagnosis and intervention might be optimized. Their research builds on the idea that that there is a fundamental organizing principle, called the 'canonical circuit,' for both the architecture and the function of the brain. Two features of autism suggest that canonical circuit dysfunction may underlie the developmental abnormalities in autism: hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli and a high prevalence of seizure activity. Behrmann and Heeger previously found that brain activity in response to sensory stimulation (visual, auditory and tactile) — known as sensory-evoked activity — is unreliable in individuals with autism. This atypical neural profile may reflect a fundamental perturbation in brain function, which would affect a wide swath of brain regions and their concomitant behaviors. The team plans to carry out two sets of experiments, one in people and the other in a mouse model of autism, to determine whether unreliable sensory-evoked activity is indeed a hallmark of autism. The researchers plan to study adults with autism to determine whether the unreliable neural response profile is a characteristic of autism. They also plan to compare the neural activity of these individuals with that of adults with schizophrenia to test whether unreliable neural activity is specific to autism or a more general manifestation of neuropsychiatric disorders. In addition, they aim to correlate the reliability of sensory-evoked activity with behavioral and psychophysical measures of sensation and perception. Finally, they aim to determine whether mice lacking the fragile X mental retardation protein (FMR1), a mouse model of autism, exhibit unreliable responses analogous to those found in people with autism, and to explore the effect of unreliable neural activity on brain development.

Funder

Funder

Simons Foundation

Fiscal Year Funding

Fiscal Year Funding

0

Current Award Period

Current Award Period

2013-2014

Strategic Plan Question

Strategic Plan Question

Question 2: How Can I Understand What Is Happening?

Strategic Plan Objective

Strategic Plan Objective

Green dot: Objective has greater than or equal to the recommended funding. 2LB. Launch at least three studies which evaluate the applicability of ASD phenotype and/or biological signature findings for performing diagnosis, risk assessment, or clinical intervention by 2015. IACC Recommended Budget: $7,200,000 over 5 years.

Project Link

Project Link

Reliability of Sensory-Evoked Activity in Autism Spectrum Disorders- Project 1 (External web link)

Institution

Institution

Carnegie Mellon University

State/Country

State/Country

Pennsylvania

Project Number

Project Number

274635MB

Federal or Private?

Federal or Private?

Private

Received ARRA Funding?

Received ARRA Funding?

No

History/Related Projects

History/Related Projects

Reliability of Sensory-Evoked Activity in Autism Spectrum Disorders- Project 1 | 91937 | 2014 | 274635MB

 
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