Stork: Neural Mechanisms for Social Interactions and Eye Contact in ASD

JOY HIRSCH (2016-09-26 to 2021-06-30) Neural Mechanisms for Social Interactions and Eye Contact in ASD. Amount: $2628305



Social interaction and communication begin in early infancy, and, although these are fundamental human functions, little is known about the underlying neural mechanisms that regulate them particularly in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by significant disabilities in language and social skills, and the specific neural mechanisms that lead to these disabilities remain active topics for investigation. Emerging theoretical directions converge on problems with eye-contact as a salient component of these communication and social disabilities. Technical limitations, however, associated with imaging of two or more individuals during natural communication and mutual eye contact have been a primary obstacle to these investigations. To overcome this technical impasse, we employ a rapidly developing brain imaging technology, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) allowing simultaneous neural imaging of two individuals during valid interactions to observe the neural effects of eye-to-eye contact and actual dialogue. Functional NIRS detects active neural tissue based on the blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) signal by measuring variations in the absorption spectra associated with oxyhemoglobin and deoxyhemoglobin. Because detectors and emitters are surface mounted on the head, they are relatively insensitive to head movement, and, as such, fNIRS is well suited for investigations of neural events engaged during active interpersonal interactions between two participants. The neural mechanisms that underlie atypical interpersonal interactions and eye contact in adult ASD are the focus of this proposal. Pilot studies confirm the feasibility of all aspects of this research project. Dyads consisting of a confederate and a participants with typical development (TYP) or ASD will be compared during neuroimaging while engaged in natural interaction and communication. We introduce a computational approach based on wavelet analysis to quantify regional cross-brain coherence between the two participants and hypothesize that cross-brain coherence associated with speech and eye contact will be reduced in ASD relative to the TYP cohort. Cross-brain computations also form the basis for a model of dynamic neural processes based on neural ?send and receive? functions during communication. We hypothesize that these dynamic ?cross-brain communication? systems unify and coordinate the roles of language production and reception (Broca's and Wernicke's Areas), respectively, with visual reception involving face specializations (fusiform gyrus). Computational comparison of cross-brain connectivity effects as well as conventional functional connectivity and segregation/contrast effects during live communication both with and without direct eye contact provides a transformational technical, empirical, computational, and theoretical advance toward understanding the dynamic neural mechanisms associated with social and communication disabilities in ASD.

项目概要社交互动和沟通始于婴儿早期,虽然这些是基本的人类功能,但对于调节它们的潜在神经机制知之甚少,特别是在自闭症谱系障碍(ASD)中。 ASD是一种神经发育障碍,其特征是语言和社交技能方面的显着残疾,导致这些残疾的特定神经机制仍然是调查的活跃主题。新兴的理论指导集中在眼睛接触问题上,这些问题是这些沟通和社会残疾的重要组成部分。然而,在自然通信和相互眼神接触期间与两个或更多个人的成像相关的技术限制是这些研究的主要障碍。为了克服这种技术僵局,我们采用了快速发展的脑成像技术,功能性近红外光谱(fNIRS),允许在有效相互作用期间同时对两个人进行神经成像,以观察眼对眼接触和实际对话的神经效应。功能性NIRS通过测量与氧合血红蛋白和脱氧血红蛋白相关的吸收光谱的变化,基于血氧水平依赖性(BOLD)信号检测活性神经组织。因为探测器和发射器表面安装在头部上,所以它们对头部运动相对不敏​​感,因此,fNIRS非常适合于研究在两个参与者之间的活跃人际交互期间参与的神经事件。成人ASD中非典型人际交往和眼神接触的神经机制是该提议的重点。试点研究证实了该研究项目各方面的可行性。在进行自然交互和交流的同时,将在神经成像期间比较由联盟和具有典型发育(TYP)或ASD的参与者组成的组。我们引入了一种基于小波分析的计算方法来量化两个参与者之间的区域跨脑相干性,并假设相对于TYP群组,ASD中与言语和眼睛接触相关的跨脑相关性将减少。跨脑计算也构成了基于神经“发送和接收”的动态神经过程模型的基础。沟通期间的功能。我们假设这些动态的跨脑通信?系统统一和协调语言生成和接收(Broca和Wernicke的区域)的角色,视觉接收涉及面部特化(梭状回)。在有和没有直接目光接触的实时通信期间,跨脑连接效应以及传统功能连接和隔离/对比效应的计算比较为理解与社会相关的动态神经机制提供了转换技术,经验,计算和理论上的进步。和ASD中的沟通障碍。

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