EARLY BRain Signature in Toddlers with ASD


Dr. Inna Fishman and her colleagues at BDIL/SDSU, UCSD and Rady Children’s Hospital (Drs. Ralph-Axel Müller, Ruth Carper, Christina Corsello) are conducting a research study to identify early brain markers for Autism spectrum disorders. This project is funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health and aims at detecting unique “brain signature” in the first years of life in toddlers with ASD.

As a disorder of brain development, autism affects how the brain grows and works; yet, brain development trajectories accompanying the emergence of first symptoms of ASD, in the 2nd year of life, are almost completely unknown.  This research study aims to identify how brain networks are organized and change over time, during the most critical developmental window when ASD symptoms first emerge (at age 18-26 months) and reach their peak (at 4-5 years of age).  Identification of brain markers of risk will advance future discoveries of novel, effective diagnostics and treatments in ASD.  Experts agree that better and earlier detection of autism is critical for successful treatment. 

If you have a 18-26 months old child with a diagnosis of ASD (or suspect she or he may have one), or if you have a typically developing toddler, please consider taking part in this important project.  If you are unsure about your child’s status, our experienced developmental psychologist will conduct a play-based diagnostic evaluation to assess whether your child may have ASD.  Should your child be eligible for the study, you will be asked to bring your child for an MRI scan around his or her bedtime.  Your child will be scanned while naturally asleep (no sedation will be involved).  To achieve the goals of the study, we would also like to see you again 2 more times before your child turns 5 years old (each time will be about 1.5 years apart).  You will be compensated for your time (you will earn $100 for the MRI visit and $50 for the evaluation / introductory visit).

If you are interested in hearing more details, or know of someone who might, please call us at (619) 594-2500 or email us at ToddlerMRIstudy@sdsu.edu.  Our experienced psychologist, Dr. Mikaela Kinnear will provide you with more details and will answer any questions you may have.

To read coverage from SDSU News Center click this link.