Yale launches five-year study of origins of autism

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Yale researchers will study the development of functional brain connectivity during late pregnancy to early adolescence thanks to a five-year, $12.4 million grant from Autism Centers of Excellence Program, part of efforts by the National Institutes of Health to understand the origins of autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Previous studies have implicated abnormalities in brain wiring in origins of ASD, which is more prevalent in boys than girls. The new longitudinal study involving four different Yale departments will use innovative technology, such as fetal and neonatal imaging and patient-derived stem cells, to compare neural development in children who go on to develop autism and those who do not.

The project will identify diagnostic and prognostic pre- and perinatal markers of ASD, discover neural, cellular, and molecular mechanisms that may protect against ASD as well as clarify sex differences in its origins,” said principal investigator Katarzyna Chawarska, professor at the Child Study Center and the Department of Pediatrics.

Todd Constable, professor of radiology and biomedical Imaging and of neurosurgery, is co-principal investigator of the project which also involves researchers from the Departments of Pediatrics and Statistics at Yale.

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