Investigators Current Studies Infant Siblings of ASD Children Categorization in Children & Adults With Autism -Study Completed Emotion Processing -Study Completed Imaging/fMRI Cognitive Enhancement Therapy Autism Treatment Network Autism Task Force Scientific Abstracts


Response to Emotion in ASD Children and Teens (REACT) Study


Dr. Carla Mazefsky, PhD, University of Pittsburgh

Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23), National Institutes of Health


Poor emotional control is a problem for many children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), but the behavioral and neural underpinnings of this problem are not well understood. This research study will explore the neurobiological basis of emotional experiences in autism.  The objectives are to better understand how emotional processes differ in individuals with and without ASD, including differences in brain functioning and how factors like pubertal status and associated anxiety and mood symptoms play a role.  This study includes individuals between the ages of 12 and 19 years old who have an ASD and those who do not have any developmental or mental health problems.


 Cognitive Enhancement Therapy (CET) and Enriched Supportive Therapy (EST) for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Dr. Shaun Eack, PhD, University of Pittsburgh

National Institutes of Health, Autism Speaks, Pa. Dept. of Health

This research study is designed to examine the potential benefits of two novel non-drug interventions, Cognitive Enhancement Therapy (CET) and Enriched Supportive Therapy (EST), in the treatment of adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

CET is a cognitive rehabilitation approach that uses computer-based and small group training to improve thinking, planning and socialization.

EST is an individual supportive therapy approach that helps adults learn about their condition, manage their emotions and stress, improve their social skills and cope with everyday problems.

Eligible participants will be randomly selected for either CET or EST and treated for 18 months.


The Development of Visual Processing in Autism


Dr. Kirsten O’Hearn, PhD, University of Pittsburgh

Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (K01)


Object recognition is an essential function of the human visual system. People with autism may display atypical object recognition, especially with certain objects (e.g., animates, f
s). The studies define the developmental trajectory of object recognition, and explore how development is atypical in autism. Recent evidence indicates that the structure and the function of occipitotemproal areas continues to mature through adolescence, suggesting that object recognition skills supported by these brain regions show prolonged maturation. However, it is not yet clear what aspects of object recognition are maturing during this time.  


Characterizing Altered Anantomic Connectivity with High Resolution Imaging in Older Adults with ASD:  A high resolution DTI study of white matter microstruture

The purpose of this project is to study brain structure and function in autism by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The participant will be asked to do activities such as looking at pictures and reading short stories while in the MRI machine. The goal of this project is to understand how the brains of individuals with autism work by looking at their eye movements and measuring the activity in their brains as they do visual tasks during the fMRI scan.
This project is studying adults.



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