Project area or title
Brain dynamics associated with bottom-up and top-down processing of social interaction in children with autism spectrum disorders
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects more than 1 in 100 people in the UK. A key feature of ASD is difficulty with social interaction, including recognizing and understanding others’ emotions and intentions. Our study aims to understand the brain mechanisms involved in this by using a child-friendly neuroimaging technique called OPM-MEG.
Our first study will investigate emotional face processing in children with ASD and compare it to typically developing (TD) children. Multivariate pattern classification will help us identify brain patterns that are associated with emotional face processing.
Second, our research will focus on understanding the neural mechanisms involved in Theory of Mind (ToM) in children with ASD. We will uncover the role of the temporoparietal junction in ToM and examine the controversies surrounding the involvement of the medial prefrontal cortex and superior temporal gyrus. Non-verbal ToM tasks involving Frith-Happé animations will be used, along with connectivity analysis and multivariate pattern classification, to compare and investigate brain dynamics during ToM processing between TD and ASD groups.
Specifically, we will investigate the brain dynamics during emotional face processing and ToM tasks in children aged 4 to 7. Our aim is to understand the developmental trajectories of these processes in both TD and ASD groups. To correlate questionnaire scores with brain dynamics related to social interaction, we will use behavioural questionnaires, including SRS-2 and SCQ.
This research will contribute to our understanding of the complex neural mechanisms of ASD and its impact on the development of social interaction.
Children, Young People & Perinatal Mental Health
University of Birmingham