Analyses of Brain Structure and Connectivity in Young Children with Autism

Project: Research project

Project Details


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Dr. Christine Wu Nordahl's long term career goal is to establish an independent laboratory to use structural and functional neuroimaging tools to gain understanding about autism and the developing brain. To achieve this goal, several immediate goals include: 1) Completing data analysis and preparing manuscripts on postdoctoral research conducted to date, 2) Acquiring new methodological and analytical skills using diffusion weighted imaging and resting state functional connectivity MRI to evaluate abnormal connectivity patterns in early autism, and 3) Expanding knowledge base about behavioral aspects of early autism and becoming proficient in administering standard diagnostic and assessment tools used in early autism. The overarching research goal of this project is to use structural and functional neuroimaging techniques to investigate abnormalities in brain structure and connectivity in 2-4 year old children with autism. Although previous structural imaging studies have provided some insight into the neuropathology of autism, the vast majority have focused on older individuals. Increasingly, the importance of investigating brain structure at the earliest possible time point is being recognized. It is therefore critical to study children as close in time as possible to the clinical diagnosis, during critical periods of brain development, and prior to intensive behavioral and medical interventions. Several educational, research, and training objectives have been delineated with each of her mentors to achieve the career goals and research project described above. David Amaral, Ph.D. will serve as her primary mentor. David Van Essen, Ph.D., Brian Wandell, Ph.D., Brad Schlaggar, M.D., Ph.D., and Sally Rogers, Ph.D. will serve as co-mentors to provide additional necessary training. The research and career development plans will be carried out at the UC Davis M.I.N.D Institute and Imaging Research Center (IRC). All subject recruitment, diagnoses, and clinical training activities will be I carried but at the M.I.N.D. Institute, atranslationaifacility dedicated to developing a cure for autism. All neuroimaging will take place at the IRC, a research dedicated facility with pediatric imaging capabilities.
Effective start/end date7/1/097/31/15


  • National Institutes of Health: $238,042.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $249,000.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $90,000.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $90,000.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $222,933.00


  • Medicine(all)


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