Parent-toddler EEG neural synchrony as a window into social communication deficits in autism

Project: Research project

Project Details


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder, affecting social communication in approximately 1 out of 68 children. Because autism is known to begin early in life and arise from differences in the brain, understanding brain differences associated with social communication in autism could provide insight into the mechanisms of the disorder, as well as a potential objective marker of brain processes useful for diagnosis and assessment of intervention response. Studies have examined the differences in social communication in children with autism using a variety of methods. Despite the dynamic, dyadic nature of social communication, most studies examine individual brains and often study social engagement during artificial experimental situations, such as viewing faces on a screen. Here, we use cutting-edge “social neuroscience” techniques to examine naturalistic parent-child interaction and measure responses in both brains at once. Whereas highly engaged, reciprocal interactions (as measured by behavioral coding of interactions) promote language development and gains from language intervention, we here examine whether behavioral joint dyadic engagement reflects neural synchrony. Further, we compare relations between behavioral indices of joint engagement in typically-developing toddlers and in toddlers with ASD. An additional key factor in language development is the parent; here we examine parent broader autism phenotype characteristics as a moderating factor in parent-child neural synchrony.
Effective start/end date7/20/186/30/22


  • National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (5R21DC017210-02)


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