The investigation of microstructural changes in the cortex in Autism Spectrum Disorders
We are conducting research focusing on the investigation of microstructural changes in the cortex in Autism Spectrum Disorders, with a particular focus on regions involved in social processes.
Autism Spectrum Disorders are a group of neurodevelopmental disorders characterised by the presence of restricted and repetitive behaviours and impairments in communication and social behaviour.
Previous work has shown differences in cell size, number and organisation in regions of the brain, however, it is not clear how these may relate to the symptomology of Autism Spectrum Disorders or why differences are seen in some regions of the brain and not others.
In order to attempt to address these questions this research is looking at dendritic organisation in several regions of the brain related to social processes.
Investigating dendritic organisation will help to complete the picture of the microstructural changes occurring in Autism Spectrum Disorders as well as informing us about differences in local connectivity, something that may relate to information processing, which is known to be altered in Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Given the developmental nature of Autism Spectrum Disorders this project will investigate individuals across the lifespan, from early childhood through to late adulthood.
This will enable investigation of how any structural differences may change over the lifetime, something that may give us an insight into how and why the behavioural phenotype is changing.