Neural basis for observational learning in autism mouse models

Project: Research project

Project Details


Core symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are dominated by problems with social engagement that have been proposed, in part, to emanate from an inability to interpret others’ intentions. This capacity to infer others’ mental states (termed theory of mind) is a critical social skill and is linked to the difficulty of children with ASDs to engage in imitation behaviors which are crucial to development of early cognitive and language skills. Observational social learning is also utilized by many animals including birds, non-human primates and rodents. These behaviors are thought to parallel intricate human social skills but have yet to be assessed in ASD model organisms. We have recently found that in one autism mouse model observational learning is disrupted. In this application we propose to test two further ASD mouse models; the Shank34-22 and 16p11.2Het mice. We will determine if these mice have deficits in two parallel tests of observational learning. Moreover, we will use genetic and imaging tools to define the brain regions and spatiotemporal dynamics of neural activity correlated with these behaviors and determine whether these are disrupted in Shank34-22 and 16p11.2Het mice. These studies will provide a systematic analysis of the neural correlates of observational learning, a prosocial behavior, and determine whether there are shared deficits in Shank34-22 and 16p11.2Het mice.
Effective start/end date10/1/229/30/24


  • Simons Foundation (968348)


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.