Imaging Infant Brain Development in Autism

Speaker: Joseph Piven, M.D.
Affiliation: Thomas E. Castelloe Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina

Date: March 22, 2017

Talk title: Imaging Infant Brain Development in Autism

Abstract: Autism is the quintessential developmental disorder yet almost all studies are cross-sectional and include subjects a wide range of ages.  The Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS) is a prospective study of infants at high familial risk for autism.  Subjects are examined at multiple time points between 3 and 36 months of age with behavioral and brain imaging assessments.  Data from the IBIS Network have revealed that during the first two years of life there are disorder specific brain changes over time such that the ‘neural signature’ of autism is ‘change over time’.  Brain differences are present by 6 months of age in multiple brain areas.  Early brain and behavior changes in autism likely have downstream cascading effects, producing later manifestations of autism and later brain changes.  These findings have led to development of early prediction models that predict autism at 24 months of age from imaging data in the first year of life.  These findings have significant potential public health implications.