Research at the Center for Autism & Developmental Disabilities is focused on supporting clinical and translational studies of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and related developmental disorders. Our projects are designed to improve our understanding of the physiology, etiology, and treatment of patients with ASD and patients with rare genetic variants associated with ASD. Among the methods we use to collect data are:
We gather clinical data using many validated, standardized instruments. Various psychological domains are evaluated including cognitive ability, adaptive behavior, psychiatric symptoms, social functioning, repetitive behavior, responsiveness to sensory events, and attention.
Highly trained clinicians administer assessments for ASD diagnostics and symptom ratings. These assessments can be administered to the caregiver or someone who is very knowledgeable about the individual’s current and past behavior and functioning; and they can be given as standardized, play- and conversation-based observations of social and communicative behavior.
Because EEG is non-invasive and widely investigated, we use it effectively in our research projects with individuals with ASD and other developmental disorders. EEG is used to measure resting-state brain activity, steady-state evoked potential responses, and event-related potentials to auditory or visual stimuli.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
The state-of-the-art MRI facilities at UT Southwestern provide tools to characterize anatomical, functional, and neurochemical changes in the brain that may contribute to behavioral features of ASD and related disorders.
We employ eye tracking to reveal the mechanisms underlying impaired task performance and abnormal brain functioning, including the processing of social information.
Genetic and Biological Analysis
We collect biological samples from participants to perform genetic and biochemical (antibodies, antigens, electrolytes, hormones, drugs, etc.) analyses.