Presenter's Name(s)

Yu HanFollow

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Patricia A. Prelock

Secondary Mentor NetID

coderre

Secondary Mentor Name

Emily Coderre

Status

Graduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Neuroscience

Second Program (optional)

Complex Systems

Primary Research Category

Biological Sciences

Presentation Title

Brain-Behavior Connections in ASD: Making Sense of Neural Activity in Emotion Recognition and ToM

Time

10:00 AM

Location

Frank Livak Ballroom

Abstract

Surveys which ask how research resources should be allocated consistently indicate that the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) community, including individuals with ASD, family members, and medical practitioners, would prefer that research on improving skills for independent living receive far greater priority.1,2 It is estimated that the lifetime cost of supporting an individual with ASD is 1.4 million dollars.3Interventions to improve functioning would significantly reduce the social and economic burdens of ASD, a disorder characterized by difficulties with social communication and social interaction, and restricted repetitive patterns of behavior, often accompanied by a language impairment and/or intellectual disability.

One such intervention which has proven to be effective in improving social skills and Theory of Mind (ToM) in children with ASD is Social Stories (SSs)4-9. SSs are short stories written to describe a social situation and reflect on appropriate responses in those social situations, providing information about relevant social cues, what they mean and why they might occur in social situations.10-12 Each SS is read to the child over multiple sessions. The behavioral effectiveness of this intervention has been established in previous studies.13-21 However, to date there are no studies investigating the neural changes that arise as a result of this intervention. An understanding of the brain mechanisms involved in the development of social skills and ToM following SSs may generate insights on how to refine and strengthen this intervention. Here, we will administer a 9-week SS intervention to a group of 60 children (ages 7-14 years old). The intervention will include 9 weeks of training with three, 30 minutes sessions per week. Three different SS will be developed for each child focusing on situations of surprise, embarrassment, and desire-based emotions. Participants will be assessed before and after treatment with previously validated behavioral measures of ToM22-26 and neuroimaging scans of brain structure and function. Three groups of participants will be assessed: an immediate-intervention group of children with ASD (I-ASD; n = 20); a wait-intervention group of children with ASD (W-ASD; n = 20); and a group of neurotypical children (NT; n = 20).

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Brain-Behavior Connections in ASD: Making Sense of Neural Activity in Emotion Recognition and ToM

Surveys which ask how research resources should be allocated consistently indicate that the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) community, including individuals with ASD, family members, and medical practitioners, would prefer that research on improving skills for independent living receive far greater priority.1,2 It is estimated that the lifetime cost of supporting an individual with ASD is 1.4 million dollars.3Interventions to improve functioning would significantly reduce the social and economic burdens of ASD, a disorder characterized by difficulties with social communication and social interaction, and restricted repetitive patterns of behavior, often accompanied by a language impairment and/or intellectual disability.

One such intervention which has proven to be effective in improving social skills and Theory of Mind (ToM) in children with ASD is Social Stories (SSs)4-9. SSs are short stories written to describe a social situation and reflect on appropriate responses in those social situations, providing information about relevant social cues, what they mean and why they might occur in social situations.10-12 Each SS is read to the child over multiple sessions. The behavioral effectiveness of this intervention has been established in previous studies.13-21 However, to date there are no studies investigating the neural changes that arise as a result of this intervention. An understanding of the brain mechanisms involved in the development of social skills and ToM following SSs may generate insights on how to refine and strengthen this intervention. Here, we will administer a 9-week SS intervention to a group of 60 children (ages 7-14 years old). The intervention will include 9 weeks of training with three, 30 minutes sessions per week. Three different SS will be developed for each child focusing on situations of surprise, embarrassment, and desire-based emotions. Participants will be assessed before and after treatment with previously validated behavioral measures of ToM22-26 and neuroimaging scans of brain structure and function. Three groups of participants will be assessed: an immediate-intervention group of children with ASD (I-ASD; n = 20); a wait-intervention group of children with ASD (W-ASD; n = 20); and a group of neurotypical children (NT; n = 20).