Wednesday, April 16, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

UCD MIND Institute researchers seek participants for autism study

Researchers at the UC Davis MIND Institute are seeking adolescents to participate in a groundbreaking brain imaging study aimed at understanding one of the most critical aspects of autism spectrum disorders: how people with autism generalize things they learn to new contexts.

“One of the areas affected in many kids and adults with autism is their ability to learn in conventional settings. We believe this is because they have unique strengths and motivation patterns, which they use to tackle challenges,” said Marjorie Solomon, associate professor of clinical psychiatry and principal investigator for the research.

“We are trying to better isolate the kinds of strengths and challenges that people with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have with respect to learning,” she said. “We want to understand better the neurobiology of those strengths and challenges so that we can help them maximize their full potential in life.”

Solomon said many of the behavioral treatments used with children with ASDs, such as applied behavioral analysis, depend on learning. However, no one really knows how the brains of children with autism spectrum disorders function during learning tasks.

“It’s ironic that one of our major therapies never has been examined in this way,” Solomon said.

She and her colleagues will use behavioral evaluations and brain scans to study what neuroscientists call “cognitive control” and “reward processing” to examine how people with autism learn.

Cognitive control refers to a person’s ability to flexibly process information and change actions depending on internal goals. It allows a person to read the word “green” out loud even if the word is printed in red. Cognitive control is important in a variety of aspects of learning, including planning, problem solving and multitasking.

“We’re investigating why adolescents with ASD often show deficits in cognitive control and reward processing in laboratory tasks, and what brain regions are involved in these deficits,” said Jonathan Beck, the study’s coordinator. “We will use this information to understand the many strengths teens with ASD use to compensate in tasks that are difficult for them.”

To better understand the learning styles of people with autism, MIND Institute researchers will use computer-based behavioral testing. They then will use functional magnetic resonance imaging to pinpoint the areas activated in the brain while the participant completes a learning task.

Participation in the study involves two visits to the UCD Health System campus, one to the MIND Institute and one to the UCD Imaging Research Center. During the visits, participants will fill out questionnaires, complete computer-based brain teasers and puzzles, and have their brains scanned using fMRI while completing a learning task. The fMRIs show researchers which parts of the brain are involved during the tasks.

More than 100 children and adults with autism already are enrolled in the study. Additional enrollees are needed to reach the goal of recruiting 300 participants. The researchers are seeking participants between the ages of 12 and 17 who are typically developing or who have been diagnosed with ASD. Study participants will be compensated for their time, receive free assessments and will be given a digital file of their own brain scan.

Solomon said typically developing individuals, as well as those with ASD, have something to gain from participating in the study.

“Some get the pleasure of knowing they are helping people with autism, and those with autism get free testing that may help us to better understand their unique gifts,” she said. “We take the time to discuss their results and answer their questions. They also become associated with a system of care that specializes in helping people with autism. A lot of families like that.”

Individuals who are interested in participating in the study may contact Jonathan Beck at 916-500-4674 or solomonlab@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu.

— UCD News Service

Special to The Enterprise

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    ‘Eco-Heroes’ help get us from here to there

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

     
     
    Home building up in March after frigid winter

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Davis elder-abuse case wraps up

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    Alleged serial killings highlight GPS limits

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    CHP seeks owner of lost cash

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    Family fiction in miniature showcased at bookstore event

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Local professor subdues unruly man on flight

    By Adrian Glass-Moore | From Page: A3, 2 Comments

    Rotarians, students, teachers, parents collaborate on planter boxes

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Yolo Crisis Nursery is in crisis; please help

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Meditation, Buddhism classes offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Seniors can get tips for getting around town

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    School has garden plots for rent

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Sugar overload, on ‘Davisville’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Check out the night sky

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Hop to it: Easter Bunny meets Davis history tour

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Garden doctor: Veggie gardening available year-round

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Animal expert explains dogs’ thinking

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Central Park Gardens to host Volunteer Orientation Day

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
     
    .

    Forum

    Still supporting this guy

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

     
    Urban forest under siege

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6, 5 Comments

    Drought care for our trees

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    .

    Sports

    UCD staff allows 19 hits in Causeway rout

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    DHS softball struggles in nonleague outing

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devils open Boras Classic by splitting games

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
     
    JV/frosh roundup: DHS sweeps a trio of baseball games

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Baseball roundup: River Cats get by Grizzlies at Raley

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Giants beat L.A. in 12

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Sports briefs: Stanford sends Aggies home with a lacrosse loss

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

     
    .

    Arts

    Red Union Blue inks record deal

    By Landon Christensen | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Craft Center exhibit explores ‘Possibilities’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

    RootStock to host wine themed plein aire exhibit

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    The California Honeydrops to bring danceable groove to The Palms

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    See Flower Power exhibit at Gallery 625

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Wednesday, April 16, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6