As part of my PhD I will be investigating the emergence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in early childhood. ASD is a complex neurodevelopmental condition. Symptoms occur early in childhood and currently, diagnosis is based on a list of behaviours.
However, because ASD is a neurodevelopmental condition, it means that it has an impact on the way that the brain grows and functions. In fact, based on many studies in genetics we know that brain development is affected much earlier than the diagnosis is made!
To date, these studies have included infants infants with an elevated likelihood of ASD by virtue of having an older sibling with the disorder. However, it remains unclear whether these studies are representative of the general population, that is, children without known genetic or familial risk factors but with early symptoms of ASD. My project will aim to fill this current gap in the research. In my research I aim to investigate the prospective emergence of brain differences in young children.
I am part of SAPIENS, a large inter-disciplinary scientific network (carried out within the framework of the European Training Network H2020) devoted to advance our understanding of social brain development.