What are the neurophysiological limits of typical brain development? What brain abnormalities cause some children to develop social and communication deficits (Autism), cognitive deficits (Low IQ), or language delays, while most children develop in a typical manner?
In the Dinstein lab we utilize neuro-imaging techniques such as MRI and EEG to study brain structure and function in Autism. Rather than searching for a single brain system that may exhibit abnormal development in Autism, we believe that Autism is a general disorder characterized by many subtle anatomical and functional changes. Since Autism is a very heterogeneous disorder these subtle changes are likely to differ across distinct subgroups of individuals with Autism. Our goal is to determine which measures of brain structure and function are useful for identifying such sub-groups and separating them from individuals with other developmental disorders or typical development. We place a particular emphasis on studying these issues during early development – in toddlers.
To perform this research we combine rigorous signal processing procedures with advanced computational techniques that include the use of classification and clustering algorithms. We expect that our research will have great impact from both scientific and clinical perspectives. Scientifically, our studies will reveal novel insights about how the human brain develops unique capabilities such as social cognition. Clinically, our studies will enable the development of clinical tools that could revolutionize Autism diagnosis, sub-typing, and prognosis.