Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


Ninth Annual Autism Conference; Las Vegas, NV; 2015

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #8
CE Offered: PSY

Neuroimaging of Face Processing in Autism: Can We Make Sense of Inconsistent Findings?

Saturday, January 24, 2015
2:30 PM–3:20 PM
Grand Ballroom
Area: AUT; Domain: Basic Research
Instruction Level: Basic
CE Instructor: Elizabeth Aylward, Ph.D.
Chair: Wayne W. Fisher (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)
ELIZABETH AYLWARD (Seattle Children's Hospital)
Elizabeth Aylward is the associate director of the Center for Integrative Brain Research at Seattle Children's Research Institute and an affiliate professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington. She received her Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Cornell University, followed by two post-doctoral fellowships at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, one in developmental disabilities and one in the dementias of aging. Post-doctoral work included an introduction to neuroimaging research focusing on structural MRI measures of specific brain regions in neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders. Dr. Aylward has continued this work for the past 25 years, and her studies have used both structural and functional MRI to better understand a variety of disorders, including autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, HIV dementia, Huntington's disease, and Down syndrome, as well as normal development and aging.

One common difficulty experienced by most children and adults with autism is an impaired ability to recognize and remember faces. This presentation will focus on neuroimaging research during the past 15 years associated with face processing in autism. Early fMRI research suggested that dysfunction of the fusiform face area is responsible for these impairments, but later studies using more refined techniques suggest that the deficits include other brain regions and may reflect other underlying deficits, such as impaired social reward systems or lack of neural habituation. The talk will cover the serious inconsistencies in findings across studies and will conclude with a discussion about the need for more attention on individual differences.

Target Audience:

Psychologists, behavior analysts, practitioners, and graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the event, participants should be able to: (1) understand the rationale for studying face processing in autism; (2) understand the findings of previous functional MRI studies of face processing in autism; and (3) understand the importance of considering heterogeneity in autism as an explanation for the lack of consistency in fMRI findings in face processing studies.
Keyword(s): face processing, neuroimaging



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