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News from IMFAR 2012
Saturday Keynote Address - Highlights (Thanks to Travel Grantee Meagan Thompson for writing up this summary)
In this morning’s keynote address, Dr. Evans presented data on longitudinal brain imaging data from birth through childhood. His presentation included videos demonstrating the dramatic brain growth in early life. Furthermore, he presented data on the relationships between physical brain measures (cortical thickness) in areas belonging to functional networks (e.g. The dorsal or ventral streams), finding that areas hypothesized to be functionally related were correlated on measures of physical characteristics. Data on individuals with ASD identified changes in regional efficiency and diminished long-range connectivity. Future work focusing on these types of network analyses is needed to better understand the implications of changes to these networks.
Susan Daniels IACC/NIH:
- "Autism research funding has grown rapidly"
- We need to build a culture of data sharing to advance autism research!
- Reseachers please share your data through NDAR. We parents are counting on you to help speed up the science.
Bernie Devlin, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine:
- Goal: Convince you that we know quite a bit about the genetics of autism, in a few years we'll know more.
- Autism is binary (you have it or don't) from a diagnostic space, but genetics see it as a continuous space.
- We are **estimating**, but we **think** that 15-20% of "autisms "are related to de novo events.
Read Day 2 insights from our Travel Grantees.
Highlilghts from Oral Session - Stakeholder: (Thanks to IMFAR Travel Grantee Meghan Swanson for writing these highlights)
- 1 in 5 high risk sibs from the infant-sib studies went on to have a diagnose with ASD
- high risk children (who did not go on to get a dx) scored higher on the ADOS and lower on the Mullen when compared to low risk children (49% of low risk, and 35% of high risk where in the “class” with high DQ and low ADOS severity).
- 2/3 of high risk siblings appear to be developing typically in terms of DQ and ADOS severity. The other 1/3 have either lower developmental functioning, higher ASD severity, or both.
Thursday Keynote Address - Dr. Ruth Feldman, Bar Ilan University:
Parents with low oxytocin have less touch, gaze synchrony with infants; parents with more oxytocin show more touch & gaze sync. Oxytocin administration to parent enhances phsyiological and behavioral readiness for social engagement with 6 month old infants. Oxytocin levesl rise in infants after administration of oxytocin to fathers who then interact with the infant. There are no known side effects to administering oxytocin to adults. Studies found lower levels of baseline oxytocin in children with ASD. After 20 mins of play with parents, oxytocin levels of ASD kids goes up significantly such that their levels are no longer different than typically developing kids. These increased oxytocin levels are maintained for 40 mins post play.
Read the Day 1 reactions from our Travel Grantees.
Highlights from IES panel on Communicating Autism Science:
- It is no longer acceptable to just conduct a study. You need to promote your work.
- PLoS1: Only 58% of all scientists are actively involved with media outreach
- You want to plan your media plan at the moment your presentation is *accepted*
- Work with your local media and become a "go-to" source. Will pay dividends on your own papers.
- Nothing is off the record in today's media world.
- Humanize and personalize your study. Use vivid phrases.
- Journalists prefer visual and metaphoric languange. A static lab is not that interesting. Something that whirs or spins or moves around is interesting.
- Return calls promptly, enthusiastically.
Highlights from the IMFAR Press Conference:
- Rebecca Landa, Ph.D of Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) at Kennedy Krieger Institute examined head control in 6 month old babies and 93% of those that had head lag later went on to have an ASD
- Teresa Bennett, MD from McMaster University study shows early intervention in social competence leads to better language development
- Ilanit Gordon from the Yale Child Study Center is conducting one of the first double blind study of Oxytocin's impact on children with ASDs
- Dan Messinger presenting Autism Speak's Baby Siblings Research Consortium is a large multi-site study that helps better determine what challenges high-risk siblings may have and how to help with support