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SCSB Lunch Series: Caroline Robertson, Ph.D.
April 15, 2016 | 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Date: Friday, April 15, 2016
Time: 12:00 pm-1:00 pm
Speaker: Caroline Robertson, Ph.D.
Affiliation: Harvard Society of Fellows
Talk title: Reduced GABAergic Action in the Autistic Brain
Abstract: Individuals with autism report difficulty in filtering redundant or conflicting information in their visual environment, leading to a sensory experience which is often described as “overloaded”.
We have recently discovered a behavioral correlate of this hallmark autistic symptom: individuals with autism evidence strikingly weak perceptual suppression of conflicting information during binocular rivalry, a simple perceptual task which can be used to test the strength of inhibition between populations of neurons with opposite selectivity in visual cortex. These findings predict higher-order symptomatology in autism (ADOS scores), and are now twice-replicated (Total N = 60 ASD, and 60 age- and IQ-matched Controls).
Today, I will describe our recent work using human brain imaging (Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy) to probe the neural underpinnings of this behavioral symptom. We find evidence for reduced GABAergic action in the autistic brain, closing the loop between a prominent circuitry-level hypothesis of autism and autistic symptoms in sensory perception and social cognition.