Labs of Cognitive Neuroscience – Faja Lab – Boston Children’s Hospital


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Labs of Cognitive Neuroscience - Faja Lab - Boston Children's Hospital

Learn more about ongoing research studies: http://www.childrenshospital.org/research-and-innovation/research/labs/faja-laboratory/ongoing-studies

Here in the Faja Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital, we are studying social and cognitive development in individuals with autism spectrum disorders, other neurodevelopmental disorders, and typical development. We use physiological and behavioral measures to understand how changes in the brain support social cognitive development.

Currently, our work is focused on:

– Plasticity and treatment response. Can existing training programs be adapted for clinical use? Which aspects of behavior and neural function change in response to intervention?

– Individual differences. How can we understand the vast differences in children with autism spectrum disorders? Do we see the same patterns in typical development? Can we better predict which individuals will respond to interventions or may benefit from combinations of treatments?

– Autism spectrum disorders. What risk factors are associated with specific aspects of autism? How can we better measure the strengths and challenges of all individuals with autism spectrum disorders? How can we better understand and support individuals with autism later in life?

Ongoing Studies:

GAMES Project (Gaming for Autism to Mold Executive Skills)

What if playing video games could help children with autism have better executive functioning?

Here in the Faja lab we are testing new computer games to improve executive functioning in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

So far, there have only been two published studies using interventions to improve executive functioning skills in children with ASD. In the GAMES Project, we will test whether computer games that have improved executive control, self-regulation and brain function among young, typically developing children are beneficial for children with ASD.

Eligibility for Study Participation:

7-11 year olds with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders.

Participation Details:

Caregivers will complete 2 screening phone calls and questionnaires about their child. Children will complete 5 visits to Boston Children’s Hospital. During some visits, children will complete EEG, a non-invasive recording of brain activity.

Some children will receive 5-10 x 1-hour training visits using game-like computer activities. If your child is not assigned to the training group, he/she may receive training at the end of the study if it is shown to improve executive function.

Families will potentially benefit by helping to test a new intervention. All families will receive a feedback report about their child’s development, free parking, childcare for siblings, and up to 0 for participating.

For more information about participating: Please email the GAMES PROJECT or call 617-919-4108

Autism Biomarkers Consortium for Clinical Trials (ABC-CT)

What is this study about? The aim of the consortium is to develop reliable and objective measurements of social function and communication in people with autism. Using EEG to measure brain function, eye tracking technology to measure visual attention, and automated recording techniques to assess behavior and speech, children aged 4 to 11 will be monitored over a six-month period. In addition to the behavioral measures and biomarker data, this community resource will also include DNA samples from children with ASD and their parents for use in future genetic studies. The goal is to create a set of measures that can be used in clinical trials to determine which treatments are best for which patients and who will benefit from a particular treatment. The ultimate goal is to validate a set of tools that will enable clinicians to objectively measure and predict how children with ASD respond to treatment.​

How much time does it take?

Caregivers will complete a screening phone call and questionnaires about their child. Children will complete 6 visits to Boston Children’s Hospital over a 6 month period. Scheduling is flexible including weekends. ​

Who can be in the study?

We are currently recruiting both typically developing children and children with a diagnosis of ASD between the ages of 4 and 11 years old.

To learn more about the study or to participate, please call us at 857-218-3182 or email the ABC-CT team.

Future Projects:

We also anticipate future projects that will seek:
– Twins with autism spectrum disorders and typical development.
– Adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders.
– School aged children with ADHD and typical development.
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