Assistant professor, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Here’s how Fedorenko describes what she will discuss in this webinar:
Despite an extensive search over the past decade, no clear brain marker for autism has been found. Many of the differences in brain structure or function once thought to be hallmarks of autism have turned out to be unreliable. Against this disappointing backdrop, one of the few replicated functional brain differences in autism appears to be decreased lateralization of language.
In this webinar, I will review research on decreased language lateralization in autism and other developmental conditions and highlight the challenges in measuring and interpreting this functional brain marker. I will argue that decreased brain lateralization is an underlying trait of disrupted neural development and may be influenced by common genetic variants that are present in the general population. I will talk about my lab’s ongoing efforts to evaluate this idea using large cohorts of individuals with robust individual-level functional magnetic resonance imaging, behavioral and genetic data. I will also discuss the inherent challenges of using this approach.