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MIT's McGovern Institute researchers awarded $8.5M to study brain basis of autism and dyslexia
Date:1/31/2008

or of Cognitive Neuroscience. Kanwisher, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, will lead the work on autism. Gabrieli, who is the Grover Hermann Professor in Health Sciences and Technology and Cognitive Neuroscience, will lead the dyslexia component.

The researchers plan to study a cohort of children, scanning them at regular intervals to examine the development of brain systems that have been implicated in social cognition (for autism) or reading (for dyslexia). They hope to include children who, because of their family history, are at increased risk for autism or dyslexia and to compare them to controls with no special risk factors. The researchers will also look at children who have already been diagnosed, looking for telltale markers that could be useful for diagnosing and tracking the progression of the disorders. They also plan to examine the effects of therapeutic interventions, in the hope of identifying markers that will guide the development of more effective therapies. In the longer term, they hope to link their findings to future advances in understanding the genetics of these disorders. By combining both approaches, says Gabrieli, it may eventually be possible to develop genetic tests that will be easier and less expensive than brain scans.

Kanwisher and Gabrieli will also collaborate with Rebecca Saxe, Assistant Professor of Neurobiology in the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, who will focus on the development of neural mechanisms for social cognition to identify the earliest stages at which infants' brains become specialized to perceive other people and understand language. Other collaborators are Laura Schulz at MIT, April Benasich at Rutgers University, Maryanne Wolf at Tufts University, David Pauls and Matti Hamalainen at MGH, and Glenn Rosen and Albert Galaburda at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.


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Contact: Charles Jennings
charlesj@mit.edu
617-324-3977
McGovern Institute for Brain Research
Source:Eurekalert

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