Project: Research project

Project Details


The proposed program of research will examine the utility of an
information processing framework for exploring the cognitive
underpinnings of three neurodevelopmental disorders, autism, Tourette
Syndrome, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Previous
research has identified a cognitive domain of particular interest in the
three disorders, executive function. Unfortunately, previous
investigations have relied upon neuropsychological tasks that are
cognitively complex and require multiple abilities for successful
completion. Such measures are therefore relatively less suitable for
exploring the precise nature of the processing deficits underlying the
three disorders. An important next step in this field is the development
of new measures that decompose complex cognitive functions into more
elementary subcomponent operations. Three studies employing information processing tasks will be undertaken
to examine three executive functions often confounded in standard
neuropsychological measures, inhibition, flexibility, and working memory.
The specific aims of these studies are to examine: 1) whether a more fine-grained, differentiated analysis of executive
function behaviors can be provided by information processing
methodologies; 2) which executive functions are impaired in children with autism,
Tourette Syndrome, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,
respectively; and 3) if we can differentiate autistic children from those with other
disorders on the basis of their executive function profiles, as defined
by information processing measures. Despite the severity of these conditions, their neurobiological
mechanisms and pathophysiology are not yet full understood. The
immediate objective of the proposed studies is to identify the specific
cognitive deficits associated with the disorders. The long-term goal of
the research program is promote future neurobiological investigations by
indicating brain regions most fruitful for future study. With more
precise specification of the cognitive phenotypes of the disorders, brain
structures and functions of particular interest may be identified, thus
facilitating the search for the neurobiological origins of the disorders.
A better understanding of core cognitive deficits may also lead to
improvements in treatment techniques and early identification of at-risk
Effective start/end date5/1/944/30/00


  • National Institutes of Health


  • Medicine(all)


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