Neurocognitive Basis of Language Processing in Autism

Project: Research project

Project Details


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): This Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Award (K23) will provide specialized training in the skills necessary to conduct research on the neurobiologic bases of language processing in autism. The candidate's long term objectives are: 1) To engage in research that will elucidate the neurobiologic and neurodeveiopmental mechanisms underlying language processing problems in developmental disabilities particularly autism; 2) To develop an innovative model of language processing in autism based on neurophysiological and behavioral data; and, 3) To develop and evaluate therapeutic intervention for individuals with autism based on the model of language processing. The specific aims are: 1) To investigate the comprehension of complex linguistic concepts by high-functioning individuals with autism; 2) To characterize the functional and anatomical brain systems underlying processing of complex linguistic concepts in high-functioning individuals with autism; and, 3) To characterize the functional and anatomical brain systems underlying processing of mentalizing in this population. The candidate's first proposed studies will examine the comprehension of ironic and metaphoric language and theory of mind in 30 older adolescents and adults with high-functioning autism as compared to 30 matched typical controls. The data from the behavioral studies will be integrated with data from planned fMRI studies conducted under the direction of the mentor. The hope is that clearer understanding of the underlying neural mechanisms will guide the development of more efficient and effective therapeutic intervention, affecting positive change in the linguistic processing and adaptive functioning of individuals with autism. The candidate holds a doctorate in speech-language pathology and has extensive clinical experience with individuals with autism and two years of post-doctoral research training. Dr. Marcel Just, Carnegie Mellon University, a pioneer in the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging for the investigation of cognitive processing, and Dr. Nancy Minshew, University of Pittsburgh, Director of an NICHD Collaborative Program of Excellence in Autism and a nationally and internationally recognized expert in autism, will serve as mentors. Training will include coursework and directed readings in language in autism, right hemispheric language functions, neuroimaging, and modeling of cognitive processes with rotations at neuroimaging laboratories at Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, University of California, Los Angeles, and Boston University. [unreadable]
Effective start/end date4/1/043/31/05


  • National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders: $120,796.00

Fingerprint 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.